Ministry of Health criticised for its action on water standards


Over 700,000 New Zealanders could be drinking unsafe water, a new report shows.

While water in Auckland and Wellington is safe, 20% of New Zealanders could be drinking water that is not "demonstrably safe".

Health Minister Dr David Clark joins The AM Show to explain how the Ministry plans to respond to the report.

 “Our water standards were world-leading in 2007,” he says. “But very little has been done since.”

Dr Clark explains that the report is “very critical of the Ministry of Health’s response over the past 10 years.”

The Ministry of Health has focused its energy on reaching out to local councils to ensure that that they are adhering to New Zealand’s water standards.

“It’s actually the enforcement of the standard that’s the biggest issue we have to deal with,” he says.

I think New Zealanders have a reasonable expectation that they should be able to access safe drinking water.

Infrastructure NZ says there have been failures at all levels - from legislation to governance and weak institutional capability.

The group says larger entities "will generate economies of scale" which councils afford drinking water standards of a higher level.

It recommends charging for drinking and wastewater use, saying metering reduces demand by 15 percent, thereby reducing the need for "expensive new water sources, treatment and distribution networks."

Listen to the full interview with Dr David Clark above. 

The AM Show with Duncan Garner, Amanda Gillies and Mark Richardson, weekdays 6-9am on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.