A desire to give the community a voice on whether or not they want their drinking water supply to be chlorinated has prompted Hastings resident Jess Soutar Barron to launch an online petition asking the Hastings District Council to stop chlorinating the water.
The council started treating the Hastings water supply, which incorporates Hastings, Flaxmere, Havelock North and surrounding suburbs, following the gastro outbreak in Havelock North in August.
As required by the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards after a bacterial incursion, this was set to continue for three months until the end of November.
Ms Soutar Barron said she launched the petition about five days ago, and as of yesterday it had garnered 1060 signatures, along with comments.
"I wanted to get as many opinions as possible - it's not just about signatures, it's about raising awareness of the issues.
"I wanted to give the council a tool to show them what the people in that water supply catchment area think about chlorine in the water and how it affects their everyday lives."
She said the smaller communities of Haumoana and Te Awanga "vocally and loudly" rejected having their water chlorinated, aided by the fact that they are small, connected and active communities.
"It's a harder ask in a bigger community, but we need to know what people think, and this is a mechanism to do this.
"I am concerned the council may be tempted to keep the chlorine in the water as part of their role to create water safety and security - chlorination makes their job easier, as it does for the District Health Board."
Only 15 per cent of New Zealand's drinking water is unchlorinated, and "we want to stay in that beautiful minority", she said.
It was not only a matter of taste, but also health considerations such as eczema and thyroid conditions, as well as the impact on soil biology.
She noted that many producers across the spectrum from ice cream to meat, milk, bread, fruit and vegetables, relied on water, and for many, especially those creating value-added, exportable products, there was a requirement to have access to non-chlorinated water.
"We have people coming here to run food-based businesses specifically because of our water and that's something we should protect, value and honour - it's part of our unique selling proposition."
She also had concerns that inequities would arise if the chlorine stayed, with not everybody able to afford filters should they want or need them.
The council was due to have a meeting at the end of this month to consider ongoing treatment, a date for which was to be set this week, and Ms Soutar Barron intended to have the information available for them to include in those considerations.
● The petition is online at www.change.org/p/hastings-district-council-no-chlorine-in-hastings-water