Havelock North inquiry urges mandatory treatment of all drinking water

07 December, 2017, 09:48 | Author: Regina Silva
  • An inquiry has found immediate action needs to be taken to address the water quality in some areas of the country

The inquiry was prompted by an outbreak of a water-borne bacterial infection in the town of Havelock North past year that made more than 5,000 residents ill, possibly killing three.

"Failures at all levels, from the legislation to governance and weak institutional capability, have contributed to a drinking water system which is risky, inefficient and unacceptable".

Mr Parker was addressing media after an inquiry into Havelock North's drinking water contamination released a damning 296 page report into the safety and security of New Zealand's drinking water supply.

December 6 (BusinessDesk) - The government will consider merging council-run drinking water suppliers among the raft of recommendations to deal with New Zealand's inadequate drinking water system.

"Traditionally, providing drinking water has been a primary responsibility of councils and we don't see that as changing, although it is true according to the inquiry that some of the smaller populations if they're left alone won't be able to afford to do it, so we're going to have to work through that".

"The Ministry of Health needs to urgently implement the Inquiry's short-term recommendations and an independent water regulator must be established as the first step towards major reform of water service governance and delivery in New Zealand".

The investigation was triggered by the outbreak of a gastro illness, laying low more than 2,000 people in the Hawke's Bay town in 2016 when the local supply, sourced from shallow bores extracting groundwater, was contaminated.

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The inquiry panel said the failure to provide safe drinking water in Havelock North was not limited to the Hastings District Council.

As well as chlorinating public drinking water networks, the inquiry also advised that "self-suppliers", such as prisons, schools, marae - any situation where water was being supplied to numbers of people above that of an average household.

There was no compelling evidence that chlorination posed a health risk, compared with the "natural" pathogens found in drinking water, the report said. Sheep dung was thought to be the most likely cause of the contamination.

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

The report isn't all bad news though with Mr Parker wanting to address the fact a large majority of Kiwis had access to treated water.

"Regulation and enforcement have been poor. We need to get this right in order to avoid a repeat of the series of failures which has led to so many people in Havelock North and other areas of New Zealand getting sick".

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