One in five New Zealanders are drinking from a public water supply that doesn't meet drinking water standards, according to a report on drinking water quality.
The Ministry of Health released a report (LINK) on Friday that shows nearly 20 percent of those receiving water from registered networked supplies serving more than 100 people (which is 721,000 New Zealanders), 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.
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About 5500 people were struck down with campylobacter in August 2016 because of contamination of the Havelock North water supply. The outbreak was also linked to three deaths in the Hawke's Bay town.
A government inquiry into the contamination was told in early 2017 that the likely cause was sheep faeces getting into the water supply via a nearby pond. Mr 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," he said.
Some of New Zealand's most iconic tourist destinations - including the Coromandel, Whangamata, Waitomo Caves, Martinborough and Milford Sound - failed to comply with water supply standards.
"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," said Mr Pfahlert.
"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."