Greenpeace is conducting free drop-in water testing today in Winton, and tomorrow in Riversdale, to enable Southland households to check their drinking water for nitrate contamination.
Southlanders are invited to bring 100mL of their bore water in a clean container to the Winton Holy Trinity Church Hall, Meldrum St, Winton, anytime today between 10am - 2pm. Greenpeace staff and volunteers will be using a spectrometer to check nitrate levels in drinking water.
The second day of testing tomorrow, Sunday 18th July, will be held at St Marks Church Hall, 46 Devon St, Riversdale, between 9am and 1pm.
Greenpeace has already conducted four testing days in Canterbury, in conjunction with the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers. Over 460 samples have been tested already, with dozens showing nitrate readings over the current health limit of 11.3mg/L.
Concerns have been raised over high levels of nitrate contamination in New Zealand's drinking water supplies, with links to increased rates of bowel cancers at as low as 0.87mg/L of nitrate contamination.
Greenpeace senior campaigner Steve Abel says the testing is an essential service for the community, and will help bolster understanding about nitrate contamination in New Zealand.
"Everyone should be able to trust that the water from their tap is clean and safe. Our previous testing has highlighted that there are unacceptably high nitrate levels in drinking water, especially in places with intensive dairying," says Abel.
"Nitrate contamination of drinking water has been linked to health concerns ranging from bowel cancer to premature births. We know what is causing this spike in nitrate contamination in our drinking water: too much synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, too many cows, and too much cow urine.
"We need the Government to lower the limit on nitrate permitted in drinking water, followed by swift action to remedy the main sources of nitrate contamination by phasing out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and lowering cow stocking rates. We also want to see support for farmers to shift to regenerative organic farming so we can keep our water healthy for generations to come."