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Government committed to West Coast water quality

Hon Damien O’Connor
MP for West Coast-Tasman
Associate Minister of Health

23 July 2008 Media Statement
Government committed to West Coast water quality

The government has invested significantly in improving drinking water safety on the West Coast and will continue to do so, local MP and Associate Health Minister Damien O’Connor said today.

Mr O’Connor was responding to a press statement from the Green Party on a draft report which he suggests is not entirely accurate or representative of the situation on the West Coast.

“Although the Greens do not name the report they are referring to, it seems they are quoting from the Environmental determinants and their effect on the health of the population in the West Coast Region report,” said Mr O’Connor.

“The report is labelled as a draft and does not appear to have been peer reviewed. It shouldn’t have been in the public domain in the first place and contains a number of errors.

“The report mixes national and regional statistics, without making the context of the figures clear, and misses many important health issues for the West Coast such as preparedness and responses to civil defence and other emergencies and the management of hazardous substances.

“Because of the West Coast’s use of surface water for drinking water there are a range of contamination sources and I would challenge the Green Party’s statement that the report focuses especially on the dairy industry. In fact, the comments on this industry make up only a small part of the report.

“The fact of the matter is that this Labour-led government has invested heavily in water supplies on the West Coast. In fact, 37 West Coast communities are registered for the Technical Assistance Programme, which covers water supply to some 12,000 people.

“In Harihari alone, $314,000 of Capital Assistance has been granted to help upgrade water supplies. Applications are also expected from a further six to ten West Coast communities or the next round of funding in September this year.

“Training has been provided to people in these communities on how to operate their water supplies sustainably, how to eliminate pathogens from water supplies, and how to identify the risks of small water supplies and manage those risks.

“There is always room for improvement and this government is committed to investing into water supplies not only on the West Coast but around the country. Safe drinking water is vital for the health of New Zealanders and in particular our small, rural communities,” said Mr O’Connor.


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