Canterbury Water Improving But More To Do Yet
The Management of Canterbury’s drinking water supplies has improved greatly but there is still more to do, according to the Canterbury District Health Board’s Drinking Water Unit. Technical Manager John Youngson who recently spent several weeks in China advising local authorities there on the state of their drinking water supplies said that with few exceptions Canterbury’s drinking water supplies had significantly improved over the last few years.
‘The statistics that were published in the Press earlier this week were very misleading,’ he said. ‘They were 10 years out of date and most of the towns and smaller water supplies that were quoted as having very poor grades are now much better.’
The Ministry of Health had recently announced a drinking water subsidy fund of $136.9million which was designed to assist with the upgrading of local water supplies in New Zealand.
‘Several local authorities in Canterbury will be applying to this fund to help upgrade their water supplies and the CDHB will be facilitating this.’
Mr Youngson said a new grading system had been introduced by the Ministry of Health to encourage the improvement of community drinking water supplies. There were protocols and guidelines in place providing benchmarks for local authorities to work towards. The established Drinking Water Standards prescribed maximum acceptable values and provided a yardstick against which drinking water quality could be measured. They also specified monitoring requirements, laboratory competence and remedial measures to be taken in the event of standards being breached.
‘Many local authorities in Canterbury have spent thousands of dollars on upgrading and improving their water supplies but there is more to do yet,’ Mr Youngson said. ‘Councils have a requirement to ensure the drinking water supplies in their areas meet the bacteriological and chemical standards. While Canterbury’s drinking water is generally good, there are still some areas notably Cheviot and Akaroa where substantial improvements are being made. The DHB is working closely with these communities and there is a real commitment to making improvements.’
Mr Youngson said there was a perception that because Christchurch had good drinking water, Canterbury had good drinking water. This was not the case. And in fact, he said, Christchurch itself would need to be monitored carefully to ensure that pollution did not affect the city’s drinking water supplies. The recharge zone which stretched from West Melton to Belfast needed to be kept clean and clear.
‘Christchurch water currently has no chlorine in it. If the community wants to keep it that way, they have to help.’
Mr Youngson said local authorities were developing public health risk management plans in preparation for the new drinking water legislation. This was aimed at clearly identifying risks to a supply and ensuring management practices were in place to manage the identified risks. The CDHB’s Drinking Water Unit undertook regular surveillance checks to ensure the water supplies were of the requisite standard.