The reports on the Havelock North Drinking Water Inquiry are published with more than 500 pages.

On one of the first pages in report 2 the panel came to the conclusion that drinking water is taonga, which means a treasure, which has to protected.

We all agree with that. However, if you search in the report for definite recommendations how the land around the Havelock North bores can be protected, you will not find one.

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The experts came to the conclusion that sheep faeces polluted the bore and/or entered into the aquifer, which caused the contamination.

The other result for our region is that the aquifers which were assumed to be confined, are not confined. That means they are vulnerable against pollution from the surface.

The next finding of the inquiry panel is related to management questions of our drinking water supply.

You can read about the miscommunication between responsible parties and lack of knowledge and lack of necessary national regulations and this covers about 90 per cent of the two reports.

A better name for the two reports would be lack of New Zealand's management to supply safe drinking water. Consequently, the recommendations focus on the improvement of regulations. The report delivers recommendations which have been overdue for a long time.

The central recommendation for our situation here in Hastings: Treatment is the only option. But I don't agree with such a categorical statement. The report mentioned also another option: to introduce the six Australian principles to protect drinking water.

Principle 2 requires protection of the source of drinking water as the first and most significant barrier against water contamination.

I would expect more detailed and specific recommendation on how this barrier should look. Regarding the national requirements of the RMA and NES the report delivers details, but no details about the direct protection of our drinking water.

There are other international examples, which could have been used and elaborated. For instance, Germany and Switzerland secure drinking water sources with declared protection zones in which land use is limited.

Without protection zones the situation which Dr Dan Deere as a member of the inquiry panel described will not change: "all Hastings bores were close to pollution sources, including sewers, which he had not seen anywhere else in the world including Third World countries".

The inquiry experts delivered for the Government detailed recommendations how to improve the national requirements but to solve our primary problem only a vague hint.

Regional and district councils have now the job to develop such protection zones, which is not an easy task.

Drinking Water is taonga, which has to be protected and not only treated.

Walter Breustedt, who lives in Havelock North, is director of ECO Management Group Ltd. He worked as an independent adviser for the German Government. Views expressed here are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's. Email: editor@hbtoday.co.nz.