There are serious concerns about growing nitrate levels in Canterbury's drinking water, with suspicions that it's linked to intensive farming.
Environment Canterbury figures show levels have been increasing in about 30 percent of tested wells - the main source of drinking water in rural areas.
Federated Farmers Mid-Canterbury president Chris Allen says it's too early to say what's behind the rises but is promising farmers are taking the issue very seriously.
"[It] could be a little bit speculative to say its intensive farming, but that's what we're trying to do, actually work it out," he says.
"We're deeply engaged and taking it very seriously. We live in the community too, we all have aspirations for good quality."
Ashburton is the most at-risk area, with 20 wells exceeding safe nitrate levels. However Mr Allen says that's not representative of the city's main water supply.
"It's extremely safe, there's no question about that," he says. "The water quality standard for drinking water is twice as strict in New Zealand as it is in other parts of the world.
"There are hotspots around Ashburton – they are not part of the community water scheme, they will be individual wells on farming properties."
High levels of nitrate in water pose serious health risks to pregnant women and babies.
RadioLIVE / 3 News
source: newshub archive