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Petition To Health Select Committee On Watercare

Petition To Health Select Committee On Watercare/Waikato

Penny Bright
86 A School Rd
Kingsland
Auckland

18 October 2002

Steve Chadwick
Chairperson
Health Committee
Bowen House
Parliament Buildings
Wellington

1999/0237 Petition of Griffiths John Hamilton and 28 others

In reply to your letter of 12 September 2002 seeking a written submission detailing our petition’s request for action the following further information is submitted in addition and with the agreement of the Principal Petitioner Griffiths John Hamilton.

The following documents, which represent hundreds of hours of voluntary research, prove that the public health risks from using Waikato river water as a raw source of drinking water have not been adequately assessed, managed or minimised.

Treated Waikato river water does NOT comply with Drinking Water Standards NZ 2000, because to “comply’ involves a 12 month monitoring programme to the standard.

To rely on the treated water from a highly contaminated source, like the Waikato river, “meeting’ the requirements

of a quality control check - Drinking Water Standards NZ 2000 - which only measure the tip of the contaminant iceberg does not minimise the risk to public health.

The risk to public health is minimised by using the common sense and precautionary approach of using the least contaminated ie: “best raw water first’ as a quality assurance measure, which is then complemented by monitoring and testing some of the contaminants that are in the water via Drinking Water Standards NZ 2000.

Public Health Risk Management Plans will take the precautionary approach of trying to stop contaminants getting into the water in the first place.

Watercare has NOT provided any evidence of carrying out Waikato river catchment risk assessments of the short and long term effects on human health from using Waikato river water as a raw source of drinking water.

Watercare has admitted that they do not know the effect of small amounts of chemicals in combination on human health - so how can

New Zealand already has very high cancer rates, and there are known links between pesticides and cancers.

Why are unnecessary risks being taken with Aucklander’s health?

Like the current “rotting housing’ crisis - is the use of Waikato river water as a raw source of drinking water for the people of the Auckland region a future public health time bomb waiting to explode?

We now have a pipeline ready for an emergency - but where is the emergency? Where’s the drought?

Why can’t Waikato water be used for non-potable purposes like industrial cooling and cleaning - freeing up

water from the protected Waitakere and Hunua catchments for potable uses?

Reliance on water treatment places great dependence on the integrity of the plant and those who are responsible for its operation.

Watercare’s “state of the art’ treatment plant FAILED its secret official 10 day proving test in April 2002.

It passed the second 10 day test 2 months later - but a number of the tests that could have been done, weren’t, because Watercare misled the Medical Officers of Health about the availability of accredited laboratories in New Zealand to carry out some of the testing, and the Medical Officers of Health didn’t double-check.

The Medical Officers of Health did not request to review the bulk of the laboratory test reports.

Watercare’s own laboratory, Watercare Laboratory Services were contracted by Watercare to organize the testing of Watercare’s own Waikato water treatment plant, and carried out some testing for which they were not accredited.

Watercare’s much vaunted “knowledge and expertise’ will be shown by evidence provided as part of this submission to be based more on “spin’ than substance.

It is a matter of real concern that, as with the “rotting houses’ crisis, it has been the unpaid community volunteers who have been asking the “hard questions’ and finding out critically important information, whilst many of those who have statutory duties, regulatory functions and who are paid to “improve, promote and protect’ public health, are simply not acting in the public interest.

That is why we want legislation which will make it mandatory for drinking water suppliers to minimise the risk to public health by trying to prevent contaminants getting into the water supplies in the first place through the use of Public Health Risk Management Plans.

OUTCOMES THAT WE ASK THE HEALTH SELECT COMMITTEE TO FACILITATE:

1)”Given that water is a vital necessity for life, and that currently no one is legally responsible for the quality of the water we drink:

That Parliament gives urgent priority to the drafting, introduction and passage 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 supplies in the first place.”

Because Watercare Services Ltd has NOT assessed, managed or minimised the risk to public health by using the least contaminated raw water source at a time when there currently is no drought or emergency, we call on the Health Select Committee to support the responsible lead of four of the six Auckland Councils who have attempted to carry out their statutory duties by supporting the precautionary policy of “best raw water first’.

2) We therefore call on the Health Select Committee to take immediate action in the interests of public health to stop water from the Waikato river being used as a raw source of drinking water for people of the Auckland region.

3) We call on the Health Select Committee to take initiate immediate action to remove water services from the commercialised model (from LATE legislation) on the basis that water services should be operated as essential public services so the interests of public health remain paramount.

4) Because water is a vital necessity of life, we call on the Health Select Committee to intiate immediate action to remove water services from the Commerce Act, so that water is not treated as a commodity and its supply a commercial activity.

5) We call on the Health Select Committee to initiate immediate action to oppose the contracting out provisions for water services under the Local Government Bill (ie: water privatisation via public-private-partnerships) again on the basis that water services should remain publicly owned, operated and managed as essential public services - not as profit-making businesses.

6) Because water is a vital necessity of life, we call on the Health Select Committee to initiate immediate action to prevent the restriction or disconnection of water supplies for non-payment of bills

(as under the UK Water Industry Act 1999) in the interests of public health.

INDEX OF EVIDENCE / DOCUMENTATION SUPPORTING THIS SUBMISSION:

1) A submission presented to the Auckland City Council on 17 October 2002, calling for the Auckland City Council to support the policy of “best raw water first’, in order to comply with its statutory duties under the Health Act 1956 to improve, promote and protect the public health of the citizens within its area of jurisdiction, and to support changes to Watercare’s Statement of Corporate Intent to incorporate Public Health Management Plans, in order to stop contaminants from entering drinking water supplies in the first place. (17 Oct 2002)

2) A copy of the “Agreement as to Water Quality’ between Watercare Services Ltd and the Manukau City Council. (18 Oct. 1998)

3) A copy of an “Open letter to the CEO of Manukau City Council’ asking for information related to the above-mentioned document. (16 Oct. 1998)

4) A copy of a further “Open letter’ to MCC CEO’ , requesting all Court Orders etc relating to the Waikato Project. (16 Oct. 2002)

5) A copy of an “Open letter’ to the CEO of Watercare, requesting all Waikato river catchment review data that enabled Watercare to have a thorough understanding of contaminant input upstream of the intake site

(16 Oct. 2002)

6) A copy of a letter from the Auckland Medical Officer of Health stating that NZ Drinking Water Standards do not test for oestrogens and related substances. (29 April 2002)

7) A copy of the “Medical Officer of Health Approval of the Waikato River Water Treatment Plant”

(17 June 2002)

8) A copy of the Official Information Act answers from the Ministry of Health relating to catchment risk

assessments of Waikato river water and related issues. (25 June 2002)

9) A copy of the Official Information Act answers from Watercare relating to catchment risk assessments of Waikato river water and related issues. (25 June 2002)

10) A copy of the Official Information Act answers from the Auckland District Health Board relating to catchment risk assessments of Waikato river water and related issues. (22 July 2002)

11) A copy of the Official Information Act answers from Metrowater Ltd relating to catchment risk assessments of Waikato river water. (8 July 2002)

12) A copy of the “Open letter’ to Auckland City Council CEO asking if Councillors were aware of their statutory duties for public health, and for copies of catchment risk assessments of Waikato river water.

(27 May 2002)

13) A copy of the reply from the Auckland City Council Secretary to the above. (24 June 2002)

14) A copy of the letter from the Auckland City Council Secretary outlining the statutory duties of LATEs

for public health (none), and how Councils cannot delegate those statutory duties, but meet those obligations under the Health Act 1956 through Watercare’s Statement of Corporate Intent.(26 June 2002)

15) A copy of the “Open letter’ to Attorney-General Margaret Wilson requesting her to serve an injunction against Watercare to restrain the commission of a public nuisance - namely the use of Waikato river water as a raw source of drinking water for the people of Auckland. (25 June 2002)

16) A copy of the response from Attorney-General Margaret Wilson. (Declining the request) (23 July 2002)

17) A copy of an “Open letter’ to the Prime Minister, asking if she supported the precautionary principle of

minimising the risk to public health by using “best raw water first’ for drinking water supplies. (No reply)

` (15 June 2002)

18) A copy of a letter to the Prime Minister, asking her to request that the Attorney-General reverse her

decision and injunct Watercare to stop Waikato water. (27 June 2002)

19) A copy of the reply from the Prime Minister, declining the above request. (31 July 2002)

20) A copy of an email sent to the Minister of Health asking why the Medical Officers of Health are not following their own Ministry of Health “best practice’ by supporting “best raw water first’, especially given that Watercare has provided no evidence that the health risks to the people of the Auckland region from using Waikato water as a raw source of drinking water have been assessed, managed or minimised.

(19 June 2002)

21) A copy of the reply from the Minister of Health, claiming that Waikato river water was safe to drink because it met Drinking Water Standards following an “exhaustive’ 10 day test, and that the Auckland Medical Officers of Health and Auckland District Health Board were thus fully carrying out their statutory duties. (11 July 2002)

22) A copy of the Official Information request to Watercare asking for a copy of :

the “treatment proving report’ that the Auckland Medical Officers of Health used as the basis of their approval of treated Waikato river water meeting Drinking Water Standards NZ 2000; and

a list with all the names of laboratories used to analyse the water quality and their accreditation status

(26 June 2002)

23) A copy of Watercare’s response to the above request, asking for $125.20 payment in advance for the “Treatment Proving Report” . (15 July 2002)

24) A copy of the list of laboratories used to analyse the water quality and their accreditation status.

NB: Watercare Laboratory Services who were contracted by Watercare to organise the testing were

themselves not accredited to carry out six of the tests. (15 July 2002)

25) A copy of the “Open letter’ sent to Watercare requesting missing test reports from 5 laboratories

(including Watercare Laboratory Services) as the evidence upon which the raw and treated water summary reports were based. (22 July 2002)

26) A copy of an “Open letter’ to Watercare’s Corporate Affairs Manager asking whether the Medical Officers of Health had approved treated Waikato river on the basis of the Waikato Water Treatment Plant Approval Report that was missing a significant number of laboratory reports. (24 July 2002)

27) A copy of the reply from Watercare to the letter of 22 July 2002, claiming that as I had not specifically asked for the laboratory reports (which I did not expect to be missing), I would need to make another

Official Information request specifically for them. (24 July 2002)

28) A copy of an email sent to Watercare’s Corporate Affairs Manager, asking again for copies of the missing lab reports, or a written assurance that the Waikato Water Treatment Plant Approval Report that I had received was identical to that received by the Medical Officers of Health. (25 July 2002)

29) A copy of the “Open letter’ sent to Watercare’s Corporate Affairs Manager, advising him that I had

contacted the Office of the Ombudsmen, and would make a formal complaint if my repeated request

was again refused. (29 July 2002)

30) A copy of the reply from Watercare to the above request stating that the missing lab reports were not in the report which had been given to the Medical Officers of Health, because that would have “more than doubled the size of the 170 page report.”

“Instead all the results were made available to the Medical Officers of health for their review on request.”

(30 July 2002)

31) A copy of my letter of complaint to the Office of the Ombudsmen. (7 Aug. 2002)

32) A copy of the reply from the Chief Ombudsman, recommending that the quickest way of receiving the

missing lab reports would be to make another request to Watercare. (16 Aug. 2002)

33) A copy of an OIA request to Watercare’s CEO asking the following:

- When Watercare changed from testing to DWSNZ 1995 to DWSNZ 2000

- Asking why a Watercare water quality report dated January - March 2002 referenced DWSNZ 1995

- Why Watercare’s Statement of Corporate Intent 2001 referenced DWSNZ 1995 instead of DWSNZ 2000.

- Why Watercare had not tested for e-coli, which according to DWSNZ 2000 was a current Priority1 determinand and testing for e-coli was supposed to be best practice.

- For copies of the first and last Watercare Laboratory Services lab report which showed e-coli had been tested for in accordance with DWSNZ 2000

- Copies of all the missing lab reports that had previously not been supplied.

- Asking upon what basis Watercare were claiming that treated Waikato river water complied with DWSNZ 2000, when “compliance’ requires monitoring for 12 consecutive months against DWSNZ 2000.

- Asking for a copy of the Waikato Water Treatment Plant Approval Plan with all subsequent revisions.

- Asking for a copy of the manufacturers specification and best practice for plant operation.

- Asking for all correspondence relating to the 10 day test of the treatment plant that was carried out in April 2002 and failed because of “technical problems’.

- Asking for all lab reports related to the aborted April 10 day test.

- Asking for a copy of the correspondence between any Watercare staff and members of the Watercare Shareholders Representative Group and/or Watercare Directors advising that the initial 10 day test

of the treatment plant had been stopped because of “technical problems’.

- Asking for a copy of the report by Thames Water Utilities which Watercare commissioned in 1995.

- Asking why it had taken Watercare so long to find out that they could not find accredited laboratories

to carry out testing for determinands listed in DWSNZ 2000.

- Asking for a copy of all correspondence between Watercare and the Ministry of Health and laboratories asked to provide testing for determinands listed in DWSNZ 2000.

- Asking why Watercare Laboratory Services tested for a number of determinands for which they were not accredited.

- Asking who was responsible for testing for “aggressiveness’ of water (a test taken from the tap - given that “aggressiveness’ can cause corrosion of plumbing fittings and heavy metal contamination)

and for copies of lab reports that have been carried out on the effect of the addition of treated Waikato water to “aggressiveness’ of drinking water supplies in the Auckland region. (19 Aug. 2002)

34) A copy of the reply from Watercare asking for $316.00 for collation of information and the photocopying

of some of the requested reports. (11 Sept. 2002)

35) A copy of the email sent to Watercare asking why apparently only some reports and items of correspondence asked for were being made available. (13 Sept. 2002)

36) A copy of Watercare’s reply to my email of 13 September 2002, stating the following:

- “Watercare has no tests that specifically relate to e-coli.’

- “The Auckland Medical Officers of Health did not request to review the laboratory reports’..

- The request for all correspondence relating to why the April 2002 “secret’ 10 day test was called off, because of “technical problems’ was “extremely wide and cannot be made available without substantial research and collation.”

- The request for a copy of all correspondence between Watercare and the Ministry of Health and laboratories asked to provide testing for determinands listed in DWSNZ 2000, “cannot be complied with without substantial collation and research’.

- “No such correspondence exists’ to explain why Watercare Laboratory Services tested for a number of determinands for which they were not accredited.

- “Watercare has no such information’ as to the effect of the addition of treated Waikato river water to

“aggressiveness’ of drinking water supplies to the Auckland region, on the basis that “Watercare’s interpretation of DWSNZ 2000 is that it will be the LNO’s (Line Network Operator’s) responsibility

to test for “aggressiveness’ of water.’ (16 Sept. 2002)

37) A copy of my email sent on 17 September 2002:

- Asking again for a copy of all correspondence relating to why the secret 10 day test held in April 2002 was called off because of “technical problems’.

- Asking again for a copy of all correspondence between Watercare and the Ministry of Health and laboratories asked to provide testing for determinands listed in DWSNZ 2000.

- Making the point that surely the provision of this information was a simple filing and photocopying exercise, and would Watercare like me to do it at $0.00 per hour as a community volunteer?

- Asking again for copies of all the laboratory reports for raw and treated from that April 10 day test.

- Asking again for a copy of the correspondence between any Watercare staff and members of the Watercare Shareholders Representative Group and/or Watercare Directors advising that the initial 10 day test of the treatment plant had been stopped because of “technical problems’. (17 Sept. 2002)

38) A copy of the reply from Watercare to my email of 17 September 2002, restating that the request for all correspondence relating to why the April 2002 “secret’ 10 day test was called off, because of “technical problems’ was “extremely wide and cannot be made available without substantial research and collation.’

(19 Sept. 2002)

39) A copy of a Water Pressure Group (Auckland) press release calling for a protest outside the Auckland Town Hall to demand that Auckland City Councillors protect our public health by supporting “best raw water first’ and to keep Waikato water turned off.

Pointing out that Mayor John Banks was refusing to allow speaking rights to the Water Pressure Group

on the Waikato water issue, so that we could explain to Auckland City Councillors the facts we had uncovered from Watercare that they should know about in order to carry out their statutory duties to protect our public health. (24 Sep. 2002)

40) A copy of the letter from Watercare that addressed in more detail the questions asked in the OIA request

of 19 August 2002.

- Admitting that Watercare hadn’t got the DWSNZ correct in their 2001 Statement of Corporate Intent.

“The reference to the DWSNZ 1995 in the Statement of Corporate Intent dated July 2001 should have been to the DWSNZ 2000. This error has previously been noted by Watercare.’

- Reaffirming that Watercare not been testing for e-coli.

- Admitting that compliance with DWSNZ 2000 involves a 12-month monitoring and testing programme.

“Watercare recognises and accepts that official compliance with DWSNZ 2000 involves a 12 month monitoring and testing programme.’

- Admitting that the secret 10 day test was called off because:

“When the test results from the first few days operation were received, these contained some positive Crypto results. This was not acceptable and Watercare required that the Proving Test be terminated.’

- Watercare state their position on their attempts to find accredited laboratories - without releasing

correspondence on the matter - as follows:

“The initial Waikato Water Treatment Plant Approval Plan was submitted to the Medical Officer of Health in November 2001, well in advance of the initial 10 day testing programme planned for April 2002. In November 2001 Watercare approached Watercare Laboratory Services and asked them to prepare to carry out the testing as part of that programme. A number of the determinands, including the ones listed in your question, were identified as new requirements that had not been previously required to be tested and for which Watercare Laboratory Services was not accredited. A search for accredited laboratories was commenced in December 2001 within New Zealand, Australasia, the UK and the USA. Unfortunately, no accredited laboratories were identified and available to carry out testing for all the determinands listing in DWSNZ 2000.

Watercare elected, in consultation with the Medical Officers of Health, to carry out those tests as required by the Medical Officers of health that could be routinely done in New Zealand.’

(As listed in the presentation to the Auckland City Council 17 October 2002, accredited laboratories were available in New Zealand to test for 8 of those 12 determinands. A simple perusal of the Ministry of Health’s readily available list of accredited laboratories made that quite clear.) (25 Sept. 2002)

41) Copies of correspondence that specifically relates to the April 2002 10 day test that was called off because of “technical problems’ and Watercare’s attempts to find accredited laboratories.

a) A copy of the letter from the Auckland Medical Officer of Health, that states

“Watercare started a 10 day testing period in early April 2002, which is referred to in these documents. This testing period was stopped after several days because of technical problems of the type expected in a new treatment plant.’ (26 July 2002)

b) A copy of an email sent from the Auckland Medical Officer of Health to Watercare’s Operations

Manager (Water) asking for the testing period to be extended for 2 days, and confirming that he’d discussed “the crypto situation with Paul Prendergast at the Ministry of Health.’ (11 April 2002)

“Concerning the lack of testing facilities for some of the DWS chemicals, as per your letter of 26/3/02 - I agree that this testing is not needed.’

(NB! The testing started on 6 April 2002, and it is not until 11 April 2002 that the Medical Officer of Health confirmed what Watercare should be testing for!)

c) A copy of the report from Watercare’s Chief Executive to the Board of Watercare Services Ltd

on “Project Waikato’.

“The 10-day test of the water quality produced by the new Waikato Treatment plant began in the month but was terminated at Watercare’s request. This followed the discovery of algae and protozoa in the samples¡K

As a result of the commissioning issues we have delayed the media launch of the Waikato pipeline until mid June. This has provided critics of the Waikato water supply with an extended opportunity to raise concerns over the safety and quality of the treatment process. In light of this I have asked Baldwin and Boyle to review their recommendations on communications strategy.’ (16 May 2002)

d) A copy of the letter from Watercare’s Operations Manager Richard Chandler, in which he details

the 12 determinands for which he claimed:

“That no practicable testing facility is available in New Zealand and that we are not aware of any good reason for persuing them.’

“I should add that at this point in time the 10-day test is due to commence on the 6th of April 2002 as originally planned.’

(IE: Less than 2 weeks before testing of the Waikato Water Treatment Plant is due to start, Watercare and the Medical Officers of Health haven’t yet worked out what is going to be tested for and which labs are accredited and available to carry out the testing!) (26 March 2002)

e) A copy of the list of accredited laboratories from the Ministry of Health, that show that there were accredited laboratories available in New Zealand to carry out tests for 8 of the 12 determinands.

42) Evidence that Watercare’s promotional leaflet, of which thousands were distributed throughout the Auckland region misled the public:

“The treated Waikato water meets’A’ grade Ministry of Health New Zealand Drinking Water Standards.’

a) A copy of a letter from the CEO of the Auckland District Health Board that states:

“As you are aware from the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand 2000, grading of a drinking water supply is based on accumulated information over a period in operation of at least 12 months.

This includes laboratory results and information on the monitoring programme, the treatment plant and its operations. The DWSNZ 2000 allows for the commissioning of new drinking water sources and their operation prior to grading.

The Waikato plant will be graded next year, after it has been on operation for a year, as would be the case with any new drinking water source. To date, the monitoring programme and results from the new plant indicate that an “A’ grade is likely to be achieved.’ (11 Oct. 2002)

43) A copy of correspondence between the Water Pressure Group (Auckland) and the Auckland City Council that

shows how the Mayor John Banks has twice denied speaking rights on the Waikato water issue before a full

Council meeting which shows a lack of democratic process and an apparent disregard for statutory duty in

Not allowing discussion of a matter involving the public health of Auckland citizens and ratepayers to be discussed before a meeting of the full Auckland City Council.

a) Email sent to Steve McDowell, Manager for Democracy Services Auckland City Council asking for the Water Pressure Group (Auckland) to address the Auckland City Council on the issue of use of Waikato river water as a source of drinking water. (15 May 2002)

b) Email from Peter Burden, Auckland City Council stating that the Mayor declined the application for a deputation from the Water Pressure Group at the above Council meeting. (17 May 2002)

c) Email asking why the Mayor declined the application for a deputation from the Water Pressure Group at the above-mentioned Council meeting. (17 May 2002)

d) Email from Peter Burden stating that the Mayor considered that there had been sufficient debate and information on the Waikato pipeline matter, so declined a deputation on that basis. (17 May 2002)

e) Email to Peter Burden asking for the Water Pressure Group to address the Auckland City Council’s August 2002 meeting on matters relating to the review of Watercare’s Statement of Corporate Intent, and Metrowater’s attendance at the Conference held on Public-Private-Partnerships held at the Carlton on August 27 - 28th 2002. (16 Sept. 2002)

f) Email from Peter Burden stating that the Mayor declined the application to address the Council at the above-mentioned Council meeting. (18 Sept 2002)

g)Email asking Peter Burden on what basis had the Mayor declined the request to speak, and asking why the Mayor was denying citizens the opportunity to make Councillors aware of issues that have important implications for the statutory duties they as Councillors had relating to public health. (18 Sept 2002)

h) Email from Peter Burden stating that the request was declined as matters concerning Watercare and Metrowater were the responsibility of the Finance and Corporate Business Committee, and offering to refer the request to Chairman of that Committee. (20 Sept. 2002)

44) A copy of resolutions passed by four of the six Councils in the Auckland region supporting “best raw water

first’ IE: Rodney District Council, North Shore City Council, Waitakere City Council, and Papakura District Council.

ENDS


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