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12 Dec 2017 23:22
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  •   Home > News > Environment

    Quality of NZ drinking water 'inadequate'

    The second report into the contamination of Havelock North's drinking water contamination has found widespread issues with the country's water supplies.

    The latest report into Havelock North's drinking water contamination has highlighted systemic issues in New Zealand, with the quality of water described as "inadequate" and regulations ensuring it is drinkable called "poor".

    It's called for a raft of changes, including the introduction of universal drinking water treatment.

    In August 2016, the Hawke's Bay town's drinking water supply was contaminated with campylobacter after a period of heavy rain washed sheep faeces through the Te Mata aquifer.

    More than 5500 people fell ill, many needed hospital treatment, and the outbreak was linked to the deaths of three elderly people.

    It caused the town's economy to suffer and sparked national debate about the safety of untreated water.

    In May, the first part of a government inquiry found there was a lack of a response plan, aquifer maintenance records and compliance duties, supervision by mid-level council managers and meaningful collaboration and co-operation between Hastings and Hawke's Bay Regional councils.

    A second report, released on Wednesday, has found the outbreak cost the councils $4.1 million and impacted tourism.

    It makes 51 detailed and specific recommendations on how to ensure safe drinking water for New Zealanders.

    The report says 80 per cent of the country's population lived in areas where stronger water standards were required.

    Attorney-General David Parker said the report made for sobering reading.

    "[It] highlights the quality of drinking water in New Zealand is often inadequate, and that regulation and enforcement have been poor," he said.

    "We must do better."

    He said the issues were a a priority for the government and it was acting quickly.

    As much as 9000 kilometres of water pipes from as far back as the 1950s needed replacing around the country, at a cost of $2.2b, according to the report.

    It also recommends the universal treatment of drinking water; changes to bore classification; setting up an independent drinking water regulator; and strengthening regulation and enforcement.

    The Minister of Health, David Clark, says the report raises serious concerns about oversight and infrastructure that can be laid at the feet of the previous National government.

    "The inquiry indicates that while drinking water standards instituted in 2007 represented international best practices at the time, since then New Zealand's standards have not kept up with the world," he said.

    Mr Clark said he would have an urgent report prepared for Cabinet before Christmas, focusing on implementing many of the recommendations.


    © 2017 NZN, NZCity

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