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New Zealand sheepish over toxic drinking water

New Zealand sheepish over toxic drinking water”

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

Past year more than 5000 people became sick from Havelock North's drinking water and the report warned almost 800,000 people were being supplied water that was "not demonstrably safe".

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

Speaking after the report's release, Attorney-General David Parker said the inquiry had made a clear case for mandatory water treatment.

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.

Other recommendations include universal treatment of water, setting up a new independent drinking water regulator, strengthening legislation, and imposing a licensing system.

However the government hadn't yet decided if it would help.

"Some of the smaller populations, if they're left alone, won't be able to afford to do it".

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.

"One of the things the report makes clear is that central government has for at least five-years known that water supplies have not been doing their duty and the Ministry of Health and those responsible for them have effectively failed New Zealanders".

"There are already challenges for some communities in paying to upgrade and maintain three waters infrastructure, so any conversation about standards needs to be accompanied by a discussion about the costs to communities of meeting those standards, and how these costs can be equitably shared by all users of water services".

Mr Cull said some communities, like Christchurch, were proud of having untreated water, and could be reluctant to fork out money - especially if the risk of getting sick was low.

Non-profit industry group Water New Zealand backed the inquiry's findings, with chief executive John Pfahlert saying major reforms were needed to improve the country's drinking water supply.

In the wake of the latest report on the state of New Zealand's drinking water, Labour, NZ First and the Greens have the opportunity to do what National never did; look after our people, say freshwater campaigners.

Health Minister David Clark is seeking urgent advice to put to Cabinet before Christmas, while Parker, who is also Environment Minister, is seeking advice on the recommendations and regulations.



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