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48,000 New Zealanders drinking faecally contaminated water

48,000 New Zealanders drinking faecally contaminated water

Some 48,000 people were provided with water that had issues with faecal contamination, 18,000 of whom were from Canterbury, the Green Party said today.

The Ministry of Health’s Annual Report on Drinking-Water in New Zealand for 2012/13 shows that 48,000 New Zealanders were drinking faecally contaminated water. Another 78,000 people were served by supplies which were not adequately monitored.

“New Zealanders have a right to clean safe drinking water. People shouldn’t have to drink water contaminated with faeces,” said Green Party water spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

The presence of Esceherichia coli in water indicates that the water has been contaminated with faeces. If E coli are detected, pathogens also present in the faeces may also occur in the water. Most water supply schemes (46 percent) which had issues with faecal contamination water were in Canterbury, while 11 percent were in the Bay of Plenty and another 11 per cent were in Otago.

“The Darfield outbreak of campylobacter, after contaminated water was supplied to the community, resulted in more than 100 people getting sick,” said Ms Sage.

“We need strong rules that protect our water and ensure that not only is it safe for swimming but also that our drinking water sources are not polluted.

“The Environment Minister is currently proposing national bottom lines for water quality which don’t safeguard rivers for swimming and which risk local councils and communities having to spend more money treating and cleaning up drinking water.

“Continued agricultural intensification and an expansion of intensive dairying will make it harder for rural communities to access clean, safe drinking water and impose additional water treatment costs.”

“It’s much more efficient and cost effective to protect the source of our drinking water supplies in the first place.”

Ministry of Health Report:


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