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Gap in drinking water safety

Lack of mandatory training and qualifications causes gap in drinking water safety

7 August 2017

Water New Zealand is recommending to the Havelock North Drinking Water Inquiry that the Government establishes a mandatory system of qualifications, competency assessment and continuing professional development for operators, supervisors and managers who operate water treatment plants.

The Inquiry reopens in Hastings today with an examination of systemic issues where there is room for improvement.

Chief Executive of Water New Zealand, John Pfahlert, says there is no mandatory system for training, qualification, competency assessment and continuing professional development for water operators, supervisors or managers in the sector – and that this is a serious gap.

He says Water New Zealand is currently working with the sector to develop an appropriate certification framework which will address this issue.

“While many councils do ensure their staff are properly trained, the lack of mandatory qualifications means there is a significant temptation to cut back on professional development, particularly when budgets are constrained.

“We know that in any sector, training is often the first casualty of tight budgets. Couple this with a lack of understanding about risk, and we have the potential for another contamination event.”

In its submission to Stage 2 of the Havelock North Water Inquiry, Water New Zealand has also urged that all drinking water supplied by a public authority be treated and that the Drinking Water Standards be reviewed.

John Pfahlert says that there is a need to review the current system of drinking water delivery to ensure that safe drinking water is delivered to all New Zealand communities.


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