Prisoners should not need to drink bottled water

29 April 2019

Water New Zealand says that all prisons should be supplying safe drinking water and there ought to be no need for prisoners to be given bottled water.

The National Party has been accused of hypocrisy over concerns it raised about the cost of slushy machines installed for corrections officers after it was revealed that prisoners were given bottled water to drink while it was in Government.

Corrections Association Vice President Paul Dennehy said that the prisoners were given ice blocks and bottled water to cool off in the summer heat.

Water New Zealand Principal Advisor, Water Quality, Jim Graham says tap water in prisons should be safe to drink. But he says an anomaly in our drinking water legislation means that prisons are not covered by our Drinking Water Standards.

“Prisons, along with many schools, marae, ski fields and at least two universities – Massey in Palmerston North and Lincoln in Canterbury– are called self-suppliers and have their own water supplies.

“They are not required to meet our Drinking Water Standards. This is an anomaly that puts many people at risk.”

Jim Graham says that it is critical that the current work being undertaken by government agencies to look at drinking water regulation and a potential new regulator ensures that our drinking water standards apply to all water supplies, with the exception only of individual households.

“We need to ensure that all public drinking water, including water supplied to schools, prisons, marae and ski fields is safe to drink.”