Contamination Outbreak Shows Need to Review Water Treatment Rules

17 August 2016 – for immediate release


The contamination of drinking water in Havelock North shows that there is a need to review whether it is still appropriate to allow communities to be supplied with untreated water.

Water New Zealand Chief Executive John Pfahlert says the inquiry into the campylobacter outbreak needs to consider the option of whether all drinking water should be chlorinated.

“This needs to be led by the Government through the Ministry of Health.

“There are many councils around the country that do not chlorinate their public water supply. But there is always a risk of contamination and as we have seen, the consequences can be very serious.

“Many local authorities have very pure water sourced from underground aquifers and have weighed up the level of risk and found it to be acceptable.

“Sometimes council decisions not to chlorinate have been driven by public concern around the adding of chemicals to their water supply.”

However he says there is always a risk of water contamination and that’s an issue that needs to be addressed by the inquiry.

“We also need to take a look at whether the Government should re-introduce the Drinking Water Subsidy Scheme for smaller local authorities to help them comply with the Drinking Water Standards.”

Both Water New Zealand and Local Government New Zealand have previously made submissions to the Government that the fund should be reinstated with $20 million a year available annually.


For more information contact John Pfahlert tel 021 150 9763 or Communications Advisor Debra Harrington 027 202 8857

Water New Zealand is a national not-for-profit organisation which promotes the sustainable management and development of New Zealand’s three waters (freshwater, wastewater and storm water). Water New Zealand is the country's largest water industry body, providing leadership and support in the water sector through advocacy, collaboration and professional development. Its 1,600 members are drawn from all areas of the water management industry including regional councils and territorial authorities, consultants, suppliers, government agencies, academia and scientists.

Havelock North Water New Zealand