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Denial Of Speaking Rights On Doesn't Stop WPG!

Mayor's Denial Of Speaking Rights On Waikato Water Doesn't Stop WPG!

PRESS RELEASE FROM WATER PRESSURE GROUP 23 APRIL 2002:

MAYOR'S DENIAL OF SPEAKING RIGHTS ON WAIKATO WATER DOESN'T STOP THE WATER PRESSURE GROUP!

After addressing an adjourned Auckland City Council meeting for about five minutes, after being denied speaking rights on the Waikato water issue - copies of the following 'Open Letter' were distributed to all Councillors:

OPEN LETTER TO ALL AUCKLAND CITY COUNCILLORS RE: DRINKING

WAIKATO WATER!

23 April 2002

Dear Auckland City Councillors,

The Water Pressure Group have been denied speaking rights on this hugely important issue by the Mayor John Banks, on the basis that :

“The Mayor considers that there has been sufficient debate and information on the Waikato pipeline matter, so has declined a deputation on that basis.”

This current Auckland City Council has never discussed the “Waikato pipeline matter’.

In less than two weeks, Watercare Services will be presenting Auckland City Council with a contract on the provision of bulk water supplies.

In a little over two weeks, Watercare Services are planning to mix water that originated from the Waikato river, with water originating from the Auckland region, so that it flows through our taps on a daily basis.

1) Have you, as Auckland City Councillors who make up the Auckland City Council, carried out your statutory duties under the Health Act 1956?

“ 23 General powers and duties of local authorities in respect of public health

PART II POWERS AND DUTIES OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES

* General powers and duties of local authorities in respect of public health---

Subject to the provisions of

this Act, 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 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:”

Surely as a first step to finding out whether drinking water from the Waikato river is likely to be injurious to the future health of Auckland City citizens and their families, is to prepare health risk assessments of the short and long term health risks to citizens and ratepayers of Auckland City from drinking Waikato water?

2) Can the Auckland City Council, as the body entrusted by statute (the Health Act 1956) to protect and conserve public health within the Auckland City Council district, produce copies of health risk assessments of the short and long term health risks to citizens and ratepayers of Auckland City from drinking Waikato water, that have been developed by :

a) The Auckland City Council

b) Watercare Services, as the wholesale water supplier for

c) Metrowater, as the retail water supplier for Auckland City

3) Are all Auckland City Councillors aware that the Ministry of Health has moved away from reliance on the monitoring of contaminants already in water supplies to check that they are inside the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards – to encouraging drinking water suppliers to develop Public Health Risk Management Plans to help stop contaminants from entering water supplies in the first place?

The Ministry of Health, has stated in:

“Overview of Public Health Risk management Plans. How to prepare and develop public health risk management plans for drinking water supplies

Making sure people have clean water to drink is an important step towards public health.

In the past, public health management of supplies relied largely on monitoring the quality of the water produced by individual water suppliers to check that it complied with the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand (DWSNZ). While monitoring is always important, public health risk management plans for drinking water supplies provide the additional benefit of reducing the likelihood of contaminants entering supplies in the first place.

By the time monitoring shows that contaminants are present, something has already gone wrong and a hazard is already present in the water.

Public health risk management plans encourage the use of risk management principles during treatment and distribution so that monitoring is not the only water quality management technique used and further reducing the risk of contamination.

To help you create and operate a public health risk management plan for your drinking water supply a set of model Public Health Risk Management Plan Guides has been prepared by the Ministry of Health.”

According to the Acting Director General of Health, Ministry of Health Public Health Risk Management Plans were sent to all Local Authorities over eight months ago.

As a 'raw' source of drinking water, the Waikato river is a contaminated ‘soup’, which contains:

All household chemicals, drugs and bugs that go down the toilet and shower.

Factory effluent

Agricultural chemicals from farms

Pollutants that come out of car exhausts and end up on the road,run off into the Waikato river when it rains.

(Think how far does State Highway One follows the Waikato river and how many vehicles use that highway.)

Existing landfills leach into the Waikato river (not to mention the proposed Hampden Downs landfill, the biggest landfill in New Zealand that is proposed to be situated just kilometers away from the Waikato pipeline intake!)

Remember that Waikato townships using Waikato river water take it upstream of sewerage outflows, not downstream as Auckland will be.

Very recently, it was recommended that people shouldn't WALK next to the Waikato river, yet Watercare want us to drink it! Watercare claim that the water will be safe to drink because their 'state of the art' water treatment process will produce drinking water that complies with or is better than New Zealand Drinking Water Standards (NZDWS 2000).

Compliance with New Zealand Drinking Water Standards is simply just not good enough.

Potentially there are thousands of chemicals that can end up in the Waikato river. Not to mention bugs. New Zealand Drinking Water Standards only test for about 150 chemicals andbugs.

Obviously, any Drinking Water Standards are only as good as current knowledge, which will always lag behind the long term effects of chemicals and bugs that we don't yet know about. According to the NZDWS 2000,

“In the provision of safe drinking-water four barriers to disease are available:

“protection of the quality of the raw water source” being the first step!

Remember how in the 1950's, DDT was regarded as being safe?

In the 1990's cryptospiridium raised its ugly head in Sydney and Milwaukee.

In 2000 'hormone disrupters' are now being identified as a problem. Oestrogen found in British rivers is being blamed for helping to turn male fish into female fish.

Is there a problem with human beings? Research is still being carried out.

Oestrogen is not currently listed in the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards because, as Auckland Medical Officer of Health David Sinclair, stated in a letter received 29 April 2002 “As we discussed, the NZDWS do not yet include limits for oestrogen and related substances, in part as consistent measurement methods are needed, and current research programmes from the UK, USA and elsewhere are yet to report.”

Yet the Herald 23 April 2002 reported:

“According to Mathew Bolland, a spokeman for the Auckland water retailer Watercare Services, an American expert, John Gaston – the former vice-president of the American Water Works Association – has said oestrogen will be effectively removed from Waikato river water by the coagulation and carbon filtration stages in the treatment plant for the pipeline to be opened in May.”

On what scientific basis can Watercare make such assertions? Mr John Gaston is currently employed under contract to Watercare.As such, he can hardly be regarded as an independent third party.

The commonsense approach to minimise the future risk to public health, is to stop contaminants entering the water in the first place.

Why are Watercare Services so keen to effectively force this water down our throats?

Watercare Services are a Local Authority Trading Enterprise (LATE). Although LATE legislation was recently changed to make them give equal weight to 'social' and 'environmental' objectives - it is obvious that 'commercial' objectives are their primary consideration. The first point on Watercare Services mission statement is:

“In particular, Watercare will:

Achieve a return on equity, recognising its cost of capital, which will allow the Company to conduct its business effectively and maintain the long term integrity of its assets, and thus improve the economic value of the Company.”

It appears that Watercare Services are putting the return on their $165 million pipeline ahead of public health.

There is currently no need to use Waikato water - where's the drought?

The Waikato pipeline can be ‘used intermittently’ according to no less than Watercare Services own engineering consultants CH2M BECA!

In a report produced for Watercare services dated 8 August 2000, CH2M BECA stated:

“Intermittent operation of the Water Supply Scheme appears to be feasible…”

Currently in the drafting stages at Parliament is of the Health (Drinking Water) Amendment Bill, which proposes to make mandatory Public Health Risk Management Plans for Drinking- Water Supplies, so as to minimise future risk to public health by reducing the likelihood of contaminants entering water supplies in the first place.

Don’t put the health of current and future generations of citizens to unnecessary risk. We expect you to act responsibly and in line with your statutory duties under the Health Act 1956. Minimise the future risk to public health. Don’t use Waikato water as a source of drinking water.

Penny Bright
Media Spokesperson
Water Pressure Group (Auckland)


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