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Report reveals unacceptable performance of many drinking water suppliers


3 July 2018

Report reveals unacceptable performance of many drinking water suppliers

Nearly two years on from the Havelock North campylobacter outbreak, one in five New Zealanders are drinking water from a public supply that does not meet current drinking water standards, according to the latest report on drinking water quality.

The Annual Report on Drinking Water Quality 2016-17, released last Friday by the Ministry of Health, shows that nearly 20 percent of those receiving water from registered networked supplies serving more than 100 people (721,000 people), were supplied water that failed to meet the requirements of the drinking water standards.

Water New Zealand Chief Executive John Pfahlert says this highlights the need for Government action on the recommendations of the Havelock North Drinking Water Inquiry and the importance of making changes to the way drinking water is provided and regulated in New Zealand.

Pfahlert says it is concerning that many smaller communities continue to fail to supply demonstrably safe drinking water.

“Many of these communities supply drinking water to tens of thousands of tourists each year. Not only is this a hazard to residents in those communities, visitors to this country are also at risk of infection through drinking inadequately treated water” said Mr Pfahlert.

The tables belowcompiled from data presented in the Ministry report shows that a variety of the communities that failed to comply were some of our most iconic tourist destinations.

“The report provides further evidence of the need for the establishment of an independent drinking water regulator who is prepared to enforce the drinking water standards.

“The findings also show that scale matters, with large suppliers such as Auckland’s Watercare, Wellington Water, and Dunedin meeting all the compliance standards throughout the year.”

Table: Examples of Communities with Bacterial and Protozoa non-compliance

Distribution Zone Population Size Type of Supply Bacteria Protozoa Chemical
Coromandel 1657 Minor Local Authority X X
Whangamata 4115 Minor Local Authority X X
Waitomo Caves 500 Small Private X X
Waiouru 2800 Minor Government X X X
Fielding 13000 Large Local Authority X X X
Dannevirke 6000 Medium Local Authority X X
Martinborough 1505 Minor Local Authority X X
Punakaiki 230 Small Local Authority X X
Springfield 520 Minor Local Authority X X
Tekapo 500 Small Local Authority X X
Milford Sound 350 Small Private X X

Key

Size Population Symbol Meaning
Small 101 to 500 P Achieved Standard
Minor 501 to 5,000 Î Failed Standard
Medium 5,001 to 10,000
Large 10,001 or more

Table 1 is data extracted from Appendix 1: Achievement against the Standards from the Minister of Health report referenced above (This is Page 8 from the Annual Report on Drinking Water Quality 2016-17)

Table 1: Achievement against the Standards from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017

Percentages are for population served.

1a Achievement in All Supplies

3,815,000 people in 661 zones.

Population Percentage Zones
Bacteriological achievement 3,669,000 96.2% 555
Protozoal achievement 3,170,000 83.1% 307
Chemical achievement 3,709,000 97.2% 633
Overall achievement 3,094,000 81.1% 287

1b Achievement in Large Zones

2,957,000 people in 74 zones, each with over 10,000 people. Serves 78% of the report population.

Population Percentage Zones
Bacteriological achievement 2,895,000 97.9% 70
Protozoal achievement 2,665,000 90.1% 61
Chemical achievement 2,894,000 97.9% 72
Overall achievement 2,615,000 88.4% 60

1c Achievement in Medium Zones

295,000 people in 41 zones, each with 5001 to 10,000 people. Serves 8% of the report population.

Population Percentage Zones
Bacteriological achievement 264,000 89.3% 36
Protozoal achievement 226,000 76.5% 31
Chemical achievement 282,000 95.4% 39
Overall achievement 214,000 72.5% 29

1d Achievement in Minor Zones

487,000 people in 257 zones, each with 501 to 5000 people. Serves 13% of the report population.

Population Percentage Zones
Bacteriological achievement 451,000 92.5% 229
Protozoal achievement 254,000 52.1% 121
Chemical achievement 459,000 94.2% 239
Overall achievement 242,000 49.6% 113

1e Achievement in Small Zones

75,600 people in 289 zones, each with 101 to 500 people. Serves 2% of the report population.

Population Percentage Zones
Bacteriological achievement 60,000 79.4% 220
Protozoal achievement 25,800 34.1% 94
Chemical achievement 73,900 97.7% 283
Overall achievement 23,800 31.5% 85

Population figures are rounded to the nearest thousand (nearest hundred for small zones).

ENDS: For further comment: CEO, John Pfahlert 021 150 9763 or Principal Advisor Water Quality, Jim Graham 027 231 3445