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What's in your water?

What's in your water?

New Zealanders expect an increasingly high standard of water, and one would think that in our clean, green country that's what we would get. Unfortunately, the contrary is often the case.

Ian Margan from Ozonewatersolutions is asking people to think about how safe their drinking water is on World Water Day, March 22.

"World Water Day is the perfect time to think about what we are drinking," says Ian.

"All too often our water isn't as good as we'd like or expect it to be. We've all heard of people who've got sick from drinking water - or unfortunately have had it happen ourselves. Often it is found that the water supply is untreated or the systems we use to treat drinking water don't kill all of the bugs."

According to Ian most at risk are small communities, baches, marae, and rural schools. A 2002 survey showed that 36 percent of small water systems do not treat their water for microbiological contaminants. A 2003 Ministry of Health survey found that 83 percent of schools monitored for bacteriological criteria did not comply.

"Getting systems that meet the drinking water standards in smaller communities can be difficult. Traditional systems often rely on coarse filtration, chemicals, have a high maintenance cost, or have problems with disposing waste."

Using ozone (active oxygen) to treat drinking water overcomes many of these problems. Ozone has been widely used as a disinfectant in Europe since 1903 and has now begun to be used in New Zealand.

"Ozone systems get a better result - they kill more of the bugs that can make you sick, can get rid of taste, colour and odour problems and are better for the environment. They also have very low operating costs, meaning less work for small communities," says Ian.

"We're very supportive of government moves to raise the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards and to make them mandatory later this year. Community expectations and safety will go up again when the standards are revised, and I think that's a good thing."

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