Report recommends mandatory treatment for all drinking water

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

The latest report into the Havelock North gastro outbreak last year recommends all drinking water supplies should be treated after it found that a fifth of New Zealanders have unsafe drinking water supplied to them.

Since the outbreak last August,  multiple E.coli readings have been found in water supplies in Hawke's Bay.

The recommendation to treat all drinking water could change that.

"I think it has to be worked through on a case-by-case basis but the starting point probably should be that it should be treated," says Dr Nick Jones of Hawke's Bay District Health Board.

The Hastings District Council came under heavy criticism in the first stage of the report into the contaminated water saga but has since implemented multiple changes.

This year the council has spent $12mil on improving processes around the drinking water supply and is forecast to spend another $25mil over the coming years.

That figure includes funds for the construction of new pipes to improve the water reticulation between Hastings and Havelock North.

"It's certainly changed the way we think about things.  We thought we were complying with the standards before, we thought we had things safe, but now there's a lot more rigor and it's a wake up call- for the rest of the country as well," says Ross McLeod, CE of Hastings District Council.

The report also found that there has been only a 1.1 percent improvement in the number of New Zealanders receiving water that complies with the national drinking water standards since the outbreak.