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Waikato River arsenic shows pipeline 'stupidity'

Waikato River arsenic shows pipeline 'stupidity'

Two of New Zealand's biggest cities and many communities along the Waikato River continue to drink water discharged by industry, farms and municipal sewers, Green Party Co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons warned today after a report indicated arsenic levels near the Waikato's source were twice that of recommended levels.

Ms Fitzsimons said the report from Watercare Services, the company that runs the Waikato pipeline providing part of Auckland's drinking water supply, which showed arsenic levels are more than twice the recommended level is damning evidence of the stupidity of taking water supply from a wastewater discharge.

"This is the problem you get when you use rivers for both your wastewater needs and your drinking water supply," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"It's not rocket science to know that the two don't mix."

The arsenic is entering the Waikato River from the Wairakei geothermal power station. Wairakei operator Contact Energy is seeking resource consent to increase the amount of waste it discharges from the station and also develop the Tauhara field which could increase the river's arsenic levels.

"Any further pollution of the Waikato River is completely unacceptable," said Ms Fitzsimons.

"The ecological balance and the safety of the water could be severely undermined by this move.

"Contact Energy should be responsible for cleaning up their own effluent rather than relying on the river to do it for them."

Ms Fitzsimons repeated the Green Party call for the Waikato pipeline to be used only for emergency and industrial supply.

"We now have nearly a year of drinking water pulled downstream from effluent discharges, farm run-offs and industrial waste drains. Now Watercare's own report casts doubt on the safety of the water."

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