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Untreated drinking water poses huge health risk – Drinking Water Workshop


Untreated drinking water poses huge health risk – Drinking Water Workshop

19 September 2017

Drinking water suppliers have been told they are taking a big risk with the health of their communities if they do not treat drinking water for possible contamination.

Visiting water contamination expert, Dr Steve Hrudey from the University of Alberta told an audience at the Water New Zealand Drinking Water Workshop in Hamilton that the Havelock North contamination was caused by a number of systemic failures.

These included complacency, communication failure and a lack of curiosity about possible contamination indicators.

He says overall however, there appears to be a reluctance on the part of many water suppliers, here and overseas, to treat water because of misperceptions about contamination barrier options such as chlorine.

He says fear of chlorination of drinking water is common but that fear is not based on credible, compelling evidence of human health risks.

Steve Hrudey says it is vital to ensure that all drinking water is treated to remove contamination and that simply testing for contamination does not provide a barrier.

“By the time testing shows water is contaminated it has already been distributed into people’s homes.”

Environmental consultant Jim Graham told the audience today that Havelock North’s Water Safety Plan had many contradictions and that it had become a compliance document rather than what its original intent was – a risk management tool.

The Drinking Water Workshop is bringing together experts from around the world and New Zealand to discuss the learnings from last year’s Havelock North water contamination outbreak.