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Sources of drinking water to be protected

21 December 2007 Media Statement

Sources of drinking water to be protected

Environment Minister Trevor Mallard today announced a new national environmental standard to protect our health by reducing the risk of contaminating drinking water sources such as rivers and groundwater.

"Water is a vital resource for life now and for future generations and looking after our water is a key part of the Labour-led government's work towards a sustainable New Zealand.

"Safe drinking water is essential to our health and wellbeing so this standard is a very positive step for communities," Trevor Mallard said.

''Protecting the sources of drinking water is part of a multi-barrier approach to clean drinking water. The standard is aimed at keeping pollution out of our drinking water supplies in the first place, rather than just relying on treatment at a later stage.

''The national environmental standard will ensure that drinking water sources such as groundwater, lakes and rivers aren’t contaminated to a point that adversely impacts on downstream water treatment plants. It provides another barrier to protection from disease, complementing the new Health (Drinking Water) Amendment Act which focuses on effective water treatment and safe delivery to consumers.

"Reducing the contamination risk to drinking water sources, in addition to ensuring safe treatment and delivery, will offer better safety to consumers. It is also more cost effective to keep contaminants out, rather than removing them later on," Trevor Mallard said.

"To allow councils, water suppliers, and consent applicants time to become familiar with the national environmental standard, there will be a six month phase in before it takes effect next June. The Ministry for the Environment will also hold nationwide workshops and produce guidance material for all councils and resource management practitioners."

The standard is a regulation under the Resource Management Act. It works by requiring regional councils to ensure that potential effects on drinking water sources are considered in decisions on resource consents and regional plans.
The National Environmental Standard: Sources of human drinking water will be available at www.mfe.govt.nz

ENDS

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