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Second Martinborough water contamination event signals urgent need for better regulation


Second Martinborough water contamination event signals urgent need for better regulation

10 April 2019

Water New Zealand says the government needs to move quickly to set up a new independent drinking water regulator.

This follows revelations that E. coli bacteria has again been discovered in Martinborough’s drinking water supply just days after an independent review found significant shortcomings in the design, operation and management of the town’s water supply.

Water New Zealand Principal Water Quality Advisor, Jim Graham says it’s clear that, more than two years after the Havelock North contamination crisis, the drinking water supply system in New Zealand is still putting people at risk of serious illness.

“We need a strong independent regulator that will ensure that supply authorities meet their obligations to supply safe drinking water to their communities.”

He says it’s concerning that the recently released review into the contamination event in the south Wairarapa town in January found 11 intervention points that could have prevented the earlier incident occurring.

“It was made very clear during the Havelock North investigation that there is a lack of education and training in the drinking water sector and as a result many small suppliers lack the capacity to supply safe drinking water. The two recent incidents in Martinborough strongly support that finding.

“We urgently need a new independent drinking water regulator with the knowledge and ability to enforce consistent and safe drinking water standards across the country.”