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And Aucklanders Will Be Drinking This?

15 April 2002

Green co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons today said the case was getting stronger by the day for rethinking the use of of the Waikato Pipeline which will pump Waikato River water into Auckland's drinking water.

The Waikato medical officer of health has advised people not to even walk too close to the Waikato River because it is so heavily polluted with discharges from farms, stormwater, and sewage treatment.

"I am concerned that from May Aucklanders will be drinking treated Waikato River water when there is no reason at all why they should have to and numerous reasons why they should not," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"This is crazy. Health authorities say don't get any of this water on you but lets just treat it and make a third of the country's population drink it."

Aucklanders have a pure, world class drinking supply from the dams in the Waitakeres but from May around 20 per cent of Auckland's permanent supply of drinking water will be from the Waikato River.

"The Greens have been saying since this scheme was first floated that the pipeline should only be switched on in emergencies or should be used only for the needs of industry. Aucklanders have never been given this choice."

Ms Fitzsimons said international research on hormonal contamination of waterways was further cause for concern with domestic research showing the presence of hormones and hormone-like substances in the Waikato River.

"There is research that shows this contamination of the Waikato River is changing the sex of goldfish. Despite Watercare's promises to treat the water to the highest standard, there is no requirement to remove hormone disrupting chemicals from this supply. This is of real concern given that even at undetectable levels these hormones can have impacts."

Ms Fitzsimons said it was not too late for Aucklanders to demand a change to this scheme.

"Using Waikato River water for industry only would alleviate any pressure on Auckland's dam-based drinking water. This is a commonsense move that Aucklanders should demand. Auckland is a lucky city to have such pure drinking water. They will lose this exceptional quality if the pipeline is switched on as planned.

"Quite apart from the water needs of Auckland it is unacceptable for any river in New Zealand to be so heavily polluted and action must be taken to clean up the thousands of legal discharges into it, as well as the land run off from farms and roads.

"This is primarily Environment Waikato's responsibility but it cannot succeed without co-operation from farmers, industry and the general public."

Ends

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