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Water Protest - It’s Not To Late

It’s Not To Late

Although Watercare plan to pump Waikato water into the Auckland Region in four weeks time, it’s not to late to stop them!

Progressive Councillors throughout the Region have committed to table motions to their respective Councils directing Watercare to operate a best water first policy (using Waikato water only in emergencies). Do we want Waikato water at all? Why can’t industry use it?

A huge show of public protest will make the difference, so join the Motorcade on June 3rd.

- Water care sold the idea of pipeline as an emergency source, and then acted by stealth to make it a primary one. The preferred option of some Councils and the vast majority of the public was to build more reservoirs. This was ignored.

- Watercare is a commercial company (LATE). It exists beyond the democratic control of our Councils. The only reason they chose the Waikato Pipeline was to boost their asset balance sheets.

- There is a Regional agenda to commercialise and franchise (privatise) our water services. This type of capital investment makes the service more attractive to multi-national water companies.

The quality of the water and the fact that the Waikato source will cost three times the amount of reservoir water doesn’t worry Watercare. After all, the rich can afford bottled water and ordinary people can foot the bill through increased user-pays charges.

It is lunacy to choose a contaminated source of water over the safest alternative.

- New Zealand Herald reported that treated Waikato water will still contain arsenic, boron, and nitrates. This is below NZ drinking water guidelines.

- This exposes Watercares claims about their high tech filtration system as being at best highly dubious and at worst false.

- NZ drinking water standards are silent on the thousands of other chemicals that are inevitably in the Waikato, downstream of Hamiltons sewer outfall, the polluted Waipa river tributary, farms, factories and various landfills. Do you want to drink Waikato water?

JOIN THIS PROTEST, NUMBERS DO COUNT!

Memo To Auckland Region Councillors – 1 Page
From Cllr Joel Cayford – North Shore City Council – 025 978 123
Dated 22 May 2002
Regarding Bulk Water Supply Contract

Your Council is about to sign a 3 year contract with Watercare for bulk water supply. It is the first time in 13 years such a contract has reached this stage. The draft contract for Waitakere Council includes a schedule which commits Watercare to supplying Waitakere City residents treated water from the Waitakere Lakes only. No other Council has such a schedule. In 2000 North Shore Council adopted a “best raw water first” policy because North Shore Council wants to supply water from the Waitakere and Hunua lakes first, and only use treated Waikato water in times of shortage.

Drinking Water Standards 2000 – which are not mandatory – require Watercare to test for some 150 chemicals and pathogens. NZ Herald reports this month that treated Waikato water will still contain Arsenic, Boron and Nitrates – below the drinking water standard, but well above what is in water supplies today. However drinking water standards are silent on the thousands of other chemicals that are inevitably in the Waikato, downstream of Hamilton’s sewer outfall, the polluted Waipa River tributary, farms, factories and various landfills.

In 2001, the Ministry of Health published further guidelines requiring Risk Management Plans for drinking water supplies. These guidelines state that health risks are minimised when contaminant risks due to raw water quality, treatment plant quality, and pipe distribution – are all minimised. International best practice reflects this MoH approach. That it is best to use the least contaminated raw water source for supply and adequately treat it – rather than to select a contaminated source and rely on sophisticated treatment to minimise health risks.

In April 2002 North Shore Council formally requested Watercare to provide Council with the costs and implications of only using the Waikato water source for drinking water during a shortage, and not all the time as is currently planned. To date no reply has been received. However in August 2001 Auckland City Council considered a similar matter and were provided with a CH2M BECA report dated 8 August 2000. The report advises against intermittent use, but confirms that the Waikato source can be put of service for an extended period, and then brought back into service when needed. The report notes that the membranes need to be kept wet and the treatment plant run every 3-6 months. It is therefore feasible to use the lake sources for drinking water, and only use Waikato water when necessary.

Your Council is now being asked to sign a bulk water supply contract with Watercare. An independent Commercial Risk Assessment of that contract has been carried out by Councils. This report states: “In the event of Watercare delivering unpotable water or water posing a risk to public health over a prolonged period, the (contract) provisions … could expose a Council to a high cost with only token compensation from Watercare.”

S.23(c) of the 1956 Health Act states: “it shall be the duty of every local authority to promote and conserve the public health within its district, and for that purpose every local authority is hereby empowered and directed if satisfied that any nuisance, or any condition likely to be injurious to health or offensive, exists in the district, to cause all proper steps to be taken to secure the abatement of the nuisance or the removal of the condition.”

Based on this information I believe it is appropriate for Councils to require Watercare to manage its raw water resources so that treated Waikato water be provided for drinking water purposes, only when levels of existing lake sources decline to an agreed trigger point.
I believe this condition needs to be written into each Council’s Contract.

ENDS

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