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Progress on safer drinking water

Minister of Health David Clark says the Ministry of Health has made good progress ensuring New Zealanders can rely on the safety of their drinking water in the 12 months since the final Havelock North Inquiry report.

“A year ago, along with my colleague the Attorney-General David Parker, I released the Havelock North Inquiry Stage 2 report,” said David Clark.

“The report highlighted many areas where change was needed to ensure New Zealanders have access to demonstrably safe drinking-water.

“The Inquiry had 51 recommendations, corresponding to 62 individual actions to ensure safer drinking water. At the release last year, I talked about the need to focus on both short and long-term work. Twenty two of 26 actions about immediate improvements to operational management, leadership, and to address technical issues have been implemented.

“A further 18 recommendations are in the process of being implemented, but are dependent on factors such as the passing of the Health (Drinking-Water) Amendment Bill or external advice before they can be considered implemented.

“The remaining 22 are tied into work being carried out by the Three Waters Review.

“This means in the past year, 40 of 62 actions are either implemented, or close to being implemented. This progress demonstrates the commitment I laid out last year to responding swiftly to the Inquiry’s recommendations.

“Additionally, the Health (Drinking Water) Amendment Bill has had its first reading in early November.

“The bill will make it easier for more work to be done to implement the recommendations of the Havelock North Inquiry and allow the Government and drinking-water sector to be more proactive and future focused.”

“On 20 November I also announced changes to the Drinking Water Standards including two which will significantly improve the ability to test and respond quickly to the presence of harmful bacteria such as E.coli.”

“On the same day the Minister of Local Government, the Honourable Nanaia Mahuta and I released a Cabinet paper that details proposals for a system wide reform of regulation of drinking water, along with a new risk management regime for sources of drinking-water.”

“I thank the Ministry of Health, public health units, local government and drinking water suppliers for the work they have carried out in the past year to make sure tens of thousands more New Zealanders can be confident their drinking water is demonstrably safe,” David Clark said.


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