Quality of NZ drinking water 'inadequate'

Quality of NZ drinking water 'inadequate'

The report left some of its most scathing criticisms for the Ministry of Health which it said had an enormous vacuum of leadership, did not properly manage water suppliers, and failed to prosecute shocking levels of non-compliance.

Water in Auckland and Wellington is safe, but one-fifth of New Zealanders could be drinking water that is not "demonstrably safe".

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

A damning report on the state of New Zealand's drinking water has called for mandatory treatment of the country's water supply - but a battle is looming over the cost of making that a reality.

"I think it's clear this report will be concerning to a lot of new Zealanders, it shows the problems we had in Havelock North a lot more widespread than previously thought", he said.

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

The report estimated the cost of replacing the country's deteriorating water pipelines, some of which were at risk of collapse, at $2.2 billion.

It urgently encourages the universal treatment of water.

He said the issues were a a priority for the government and it was acting quickly. In particular, we identified two areas of focus regarding drinking water, including the security of drinking water supply sources.

"The primary duty of delivering clean water goes on the people who are delivering it. every mayor in the land should be reading the report and they should be reinforcing the importance of this report to their councillors and to their chief executives and to their water bodies - that is where the line of responsibility should start".

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

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.

We have noted the recommendation that the Auditor-General be invited to monitor the implementation of the recommendations and initiatives in the Havelock North drinking water inquiry report.

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

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