New report calls for water treatment, regulation across country

Marco Green
December 7, 2017

This year the council has spent $12mil on improving processes around the drinking water supply and is forecast to spend another $25mil over the coming years.

The latest report into the Havelock North gastro outbreak previous year recommends all drinking water supplies should be treated after it found that a fifth of New Zealanders have unsafe drinking water supplied to them.

It recommends changes to the classification system for bores in order to avoid what it sees as the misunderstanding that bore water drawn from a "secure" aquifer is always safe to drink.

While the inquiry appreciated that legislative change to mandate drinking water treatment with a residual disinfectant (most commonly chlorine) would take some time, it urged the Director-General of Health to encourage and persuade all water suppliers to use appropriate and effective treatment without delay.

The Hastings District Council came under heavy criticism in the first stage of the report into the contaminated water saga but has since implemented multiple changes.

Risks to the public "are simply too high to continue with such supplies", the report says.

"The industry has demonstrated that it is not capable of itself improving when the standards are not met".

"While this inquiry looked specifically at drinking water, the issues are systemic across the sector including waste and stormwater services. It's the communities that have to pay, and that's what this report hasn't addressed".

There was no compelling evidence that chlorination posed a health risk, compared with the "natural" pathogens found in drinking water, the report said. The inquiry panel chaired by retired appeal court judge Lyn Stevens found in their follow-up report that the contamination of Havelock North's water supply wasn't confined to that region, with water suppliers across the country sharing those problems and many not meeting minimum compliance levels.

"Taste and odour problems will be minimal or non-existent in a properly run and stabilised chlorination system".

It also recommended the creation of an independent drinking water regulator to monitor supplies around the country and crack down on offenders.

Parker said one of the report's recommendations - to set up larger organisations to handle the water supply instead of leaving it to each local authority - would help to reduce costs. We must do better.

We are considering the Havelock North report to determine the implications for this area of focus and on our water management programme more generally.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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