Havelock North water crisis sparks call for all drinking supplies to be chlorinated
While his neighbours still suffer from the country's worst case of mass water contamination, Napier Mayor Bill Dalton says his city will fight to keep chlorine out of its town supply.
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace is also rejecting calls for all town water supplies to be chlorinated in the wake of the Havelock North contamination crisis.
About 74,000 Lower Hutt residents from Pomare to Petone drink chlorine-free water sourced from the Waiwhetu aquifer. The rest of greater Wellington's supply is chlorinated.
In Hawke's Bay, Napier, Hastings and Havelock North's town supplies have been chlorine-free but the chemical was added to Havelock North water to treat a campylobacter contamination on August 12, and to the Hastings supply as a precaution last week.
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* Smaller water supplies most at risk of waterborne campylobacter
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* Inquiry to be launched into Havelock North's contaminated water
Water treatment engineer Iain Rabbitts said chlorination should be made mandatory to avoid a repeat of the Havelock North crisis.
"We knew this was going to happen at some point in one of the unchlorinated supplies in New Zealand and we all hoped it wouldn't be too bad," he said.
But Dalton said Napier would resist a move to mandatory chlorination "incredibly strongly because one of the points of difference of Napier is our wonderfully pure, unadulterated water supply".
He did not want the city serving up the type of chlorine-tainted water other cities, such as Auckland, had to endure, he said.
"The first thing we do when we're heading north is we pick up heaps of bottles of water because we don't drink the water up in Auckland because it bloody stinks.
"If the Government turns around and tries to play the heavy hand, then they'll get a bloody good fight from us."
Wallace said he had confidence in the robust security and testing processes used by region-wide infrastructure provider Wellington Water.
"We've not had a situation where we've been concerned," he said.
Both mayors said safety of the supply was their paramount concern and if current testing standards were found to be inadequate they would review their councils' processes and, if necessary, their stance on chlorination.
Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said last week the issue of mandatory chlorination would be considered as part of the Government's inquiry into the Havelock North contamination.
* Audio courtesy of RNZ.