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Director-General of Health statement on drinking-water

Director-General of Health statement on drinking-water

The Ministry of Health is reminding all drinking-water suppliers of their legal responsibility to provide safe water - including considering treating water.

The Director-General of Health has today issued a formal statement reminding water suppliers of their statutory responsibilities set out in the Health Act 1956.

The formal statement recommends reconsidering reliance on ‘secure bores’ and warns that the public risk is increased if drinking-water is untreated. Councils and DHBs have been advised to seek information from public health units on the need to disinfect any drinking-water supply that is currently not being treated. The Ministry strongly advises water should be treated, with chlorination the safest treatment option.

There are currently 9 medium or large sized networked water supplies which supply non-disinfected ground water, serving a combined population of around 380,000.
Water Supplies Registered Population
Christchurch Central
North West Christchurch
Parklands, Christchurch
Riccarton, Christchurch
West Christchurch

Issuing a formal statement to drinking-water suppliers is one of the recommendations from the Havelock North Drinking Water Inquiry Stage 2 Report.

The inquiry found that the term ‘secure supply’ was a misnomer. One of its key findings was that any untreated supply carried risk and the Inquiry recommended immediate treatment of all untreated water supplies.

All Council suppliers have received a copy of the stage 2 inquiry report and their recommendations.

The Government has indicated that there will be a formal response to the inquiry due early next year.

The Ministry of Health is already putting in place a number of improvements to the drinking water framework. They include:

- Setting up an independent expert panel to assess changes to the drinking- water system as recommended by the inquiry
- Writing to all drinking water assessors to reinforce their statutory responsibilities
- Working more closely with International Accreditation NZ to review the laboratory testing and sampling regime for drinking water
- Arranging further research into risk levels of protozoa in water supplies
- Reviewing current drinking- water standards
- Considering a review of the Health Act
- Discussing with DHBs resourcing for drinking water assessors.

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