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Proposed standard for drinking water source

1 June 2004

Proposed standard for drinking water source

Ensuring councils get the right information about their catchments' water quality is the next step towards better quality drinking water, according to Environment Minister Marian Hobbs and Health Minister Annette King.

The Ministry for the Environment is working with the Ministry of Health to develop and implement a national environmental standard for human drinking water sources. The standard is designed to help regional councils better manage drinking water sources, which will lead ultimately to better quality drinking water.

The standard will require councils to monitor, grade and report on the suitability of human drinking water sources, Marian Hobbs said.

"We are working towards a standard that will protect the quality of raw water before it goes into the water treatment system," Marian Hobbs said. "That way councils can make better decisions about where to take water from and what activities are appropriate in their supply catchments."

The standard is one of several being developed by the Ministry for the Environment to ensure greater consistency under the Resource Management Act and to provide environmental bottom lines.

A discussion document on the proposed standard will be available shortly and technical workshops will be held this month. The standard will be publicly notified later in the year.

At the same time, the Ministry of Health is developing a draft Health (Drinking Water) Amendment Bill.

"This will dictate the quality of water that comes out of our taps. The proposed Bill will replace the existing fragmented and inadequate legislative framework with an integrated system that prevents or reduces the contamination of drinking water,” Health Minister Annette King said.

"Recent overseas studies of drinking water contamination and new virulent water borne diseases have highlighted the importance of water management that takes an integrated ‘water source to tap’ approach."

More information on the proposed standard is available from the Ministry for the Environment website at: www.mfe.govt.nz and on the draft Bill from the Ministry of Health website at: www.moh.govt.nz


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