Clean water a priority - MP

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 08:52 11/06/2014
Lynette Rayner
WATER WOES: Labour rural spokesman and West Coast Tasman MP Damien O’Connor talks to a public meeting in Seddon. Kaikoura electorate candidate Janette Walker looks on.

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Smaller communities such as Seddon should not have to go without safe drinking water, Labour's rural spokesman Damien O'Connor says.

The MP for West Coast Tasman told a public meeting in Seddon on Monday night that safe affordable water for communities such as Seddon was both a health and rural issue.

The Marlborough District Council and central government needed to take responsibility. Unfortunately, a subsidy to do the work had been scrapped by the National Government, O'Connor said.

"In government, we had a scheme to directly subsidise small rural communities because that is the only way they could afford to upgrade . . .

"There is no doubt smaller communities like Seddon face significantly greater water supply upgrade costs per person because they lack the economies of scale of larger schemes where basic infrastructure costs are spread across a greater population."

Kaikoura electorate candidate Janette Walker said safe drinking water was a basic requirement.

"As a country we market ourselves as clean and green. If the reality is we can't drink our own water, it's all at risk."

She said it was reported that there were local residents developing chronic rash conditions and gastrointestinal problems. The rashes resolved when the resident bathed elsewhere out of the district, she said.

Marlborough District Council assets and services manager Mark Wheeler, who has responsibility for water systems, attended the meeting.

He said the council was exploring options. It was not an easy fix and was likely to be expensive. Some options might be outlined in the council's long-term plan next year.

Seddon's drinking water was a focus of about 15 submissions to the council's draft annual plan, with people saying money should not be spent on a new library while communities did not have safe drinking water.

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- The Marlborough Express

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