New Zealands Crap Water | The Jackal

4 Jul 2011

New Zealands Crap Water

The Ministry of Health annual Report (PDF) on Drinking-Water in New Zealand 2009/10 shows 72,000 New Zealanders are drinking faecally-contaminated water.

MOH found unacceptable levels of E.Coli in the water of 2% of the population. However the true number of people drinking faecally contaminated water may be 10 times higher than the MOH figure.

One of the main reasons New Zealands water is polluted is from agricultural practices such as allowing livestock to graze near water bodies, spreading manure as fertilizer on fields during dry periods, using sewage sludge biosolids and allowing livestock watering in streams, all of which contribute to fecal coliform contamination.

An increase of nutrients ie effluent discharge and an increase in winter temperatures is attributable to the recent increase in harmful algal bloom or phytoplankton around New Zealand.

On May 9th, National made a pre-budget announcement that a further $35 million boost to an "irrigation acceleration fund," over five years would be made. Agriculture Minister David Carter also said it was looking at pouring another $400m into building regional dams or irrigation schemes from 2013-2014 to encourage private investment in the farming industry.

It's clear that National has prioritized farming intensification over peoples health by recently making the criteria stricter for the Drinking-Water Subsidy Scheme. Safe drinking-water is a necessity for peoples health.

Many small rural New Zealand communities do not have access to safe drinking-water. However Minister of Health Tony Ryall passed the buck when he said it was the responsibility of the local authorities to manage faecal contamination.

Russel Norman from the Green Party said the programme was put on hold in September 2009 for a governmental review and was reinstated at the end of 2010 with stricter eligibility criteria for communities and an $18 million budget cut.
"Some communities have faeces in their drinking water and yet the Government has limited their ability to clean up their water sources. At a time when nearly half of our lakes and most of our lowland rivers are classed as polluted, and these are the source of drinking water for many communities, the Government needs to be investing more money into helping communities supply clean, safe drinking water, not less," Dr Norman said.
Only those communities with a Deprivation Index of 7 and above are now eligible. National's new criteria is that asset replacement, maintenance, land purchase and applications from city councils are not eligible for subsidies. 30% of district health boards have reported that the freeze on funding had been a limiting factor to being able to provide safe drinking water.

It's no wonder New Zealand has an increase of third world diseases. Some waterborne pathogenic diseases that coincide with fecal coliform contamination include ear infections, dysentery, typhoid fever, viral and bacterial gastroenteritis, and hepatitis A. Such diseases can cost New Zealand billions of dollars each year.