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Survey indicates water isn't up to standard - Labour

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, May 31 NZPA - An Audit Office survey suggests people living in small centres may be drinking water that is either ungraded or doesn't meet standards, the Labour Party says.

Water spokesman Brendon Burns said today the report showed only one of eight councils surveyed -- Nelson -- was meeting drinking water standards introduced in 2007 to meet World Health Organisation minimum standards.

Parts of Christchurch had an unsatisfactory grade and the others -- Banks Peninsula, Tasman, Kapiti, Opotiki, Central Otago and South Taranaki -- were all ungraded or didn't meet minimum standards.

Mr Burns said the information was given to the local government and environment select committee last week when Audit Office staff discussed a report that had written about planning to meet future demand for drinking water.

"People living in bigger centres can be reasonably sure their water quality is safe as it meets the standards, but the report suggests many people living in smaller centres are drinking water that has not been graded or, if it has, has been found to be unsatisfactory or unacceptable," Mr Burns said.

"Nine months ago Health Minister Tony Ryall froze $80 million in funding, put in place by Labour, to help small communities meet the new water standards. He has yet to turn the funding tap back on."

The Government last year announced a three-year moratorium on councils meeting the new water standard because of the burden it would place on rates.

At the time, Mr Ryall indicated he was considering targeting the scheme.

"We have inherited a situation whereby this very important drinking water subsidy is based pretty much on a `first come, first served' basis," he said.

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