Havelock North Inquiry wasted opportunity to ensure no one gets sick again

The National Government is wasting an opportunity to ensure New Zealanders don’t get sick from their drinking water, by ignoring the state of our freshwater and land use in the Havelock North outbreak Inquiry, the Green Party said today.

“Today’s announcement that the Inquiry will include top health and engineering experts is a good start, but ignores the impact of land use on water quality,” said Green Party water spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.

“The inquiry should have two parts; one to look at the immediate problem in Havelock North, and another to look at how land use and water management contributes to E. coli and waterborne disease contamination.

“The Inquiry needs a freshwater scientist who understands that how we use our land, whether it be for agriculture, industry, urban living, or other use, affects the cleanliness of the water in underground aquifers, rivers and lakes that we use for our drinking water.

“The cleaner the water at its source, the cleaner the water coming from your tap, so let’s take a hard look at how clean the water at its source is. Instead, the National Government is avoiding looking at the real causes of pollution.

“National seems to think that if they look at sources of pollution they might not like what they find, and their strategy of exploiting the environment for short term gain will come under scrutiny.

“The type of land use in a community, for example agriculture, industrial or urban, affects the cleanliness of water in underground aquifers and bores – so we need the inquiry to take these activities into account.

“At present, 15 percent of New Zealanders get their drinking water from bores and other unregistered supplies, so saying that we could just chlorinate every registered supply will not protect those dependent on bores.

“The Government has an opportunity to take strong action on safe drinking water and protect the health of communities with this Inquiry – but it looks like they’re avoiding it,” said Ms Delahunty.

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