A report into Havelock North's water contamination has criticised the country's drinking water laws. Its main recommendations for changes are:
- Water across New Zealand should be universally treated, including a residual disinfectant in the reticulation;
- A dedicated, independent and well-resourced drinking water regulator to be established;
- Water suppliers should be licensed;
- The Ministry of Health to put in a clear enforcement policy for safe drinking water;
- The "secure" classification of bores, which gives a misleading impression to the public they are safe, should be abolished;
- DHBs should establish joint working groups responsible for oversight of drinking water safety in their region;
- A comprehensive review of design, construction, supervision, operation, inspection, maintenance and renewal of all bores that draw water from the ground.
"The quality of drinking water in New Zealand is often inadequate, and that regulation and enforcement have been poor. We must do better." - Attorney- General David Parker
"Overall, this report raises serious concerns about oversight and infrastructure. We will be pursuing solutions to address any problems identified." - Health Minister David Clark
"There has been a considerable amount of work undertaken since the outbreak that has seen closer working relationships developed between local authorities and the DHB ... it is a thought-provoking and detailed report that we will be reviewing thoroughly." - Hawke's Bay District Health Board chief executive Kevin Snee
Cabinet is to be briefed on planned response by Christmas.
What you need to know
- People on reticulated water systems (such as those used in Auckland and Wellington) should have nothing to worry about.
- The main risk identified in the report is to people who are receiving water through uncapped bores.
Rain water and run-off can get into the drinking water bringing bacteria such as E-Coli.
- People on a town supply, who are concerned about the safety of their water, should contact their supplier (usually your local council) to determine the safety of the water currently supplied.
- If you are in any doubt about the microbial safety of your water you are advised to boil it prior to drinking.
Boiling inactivates all bacteria, protozoa and viruses.
- For people on self-supplies (e.g roof water), information on managing your supply safely can be found here
- More information on the supply of drinking water in NZ is available here