Water NZ says Martinborough E.coli detection shows water regulator is needed

Water New Zealand is pushing the Government to set up an independent drinking water quality regulator after an E.coli detection in Martinborough.

Tap water (file picture). Source: 1 NEWS

The Wairarapa town relies on bore water which is treated with UV light to remove pathogens, but a power cut on January 23 is believed to have led to un-treated water being pumped into the reticulated network.

E.coli was detected in very low levels on Januar 30, and a boil water notice was issued which lasted for 20 days.

Water NZ said today in a release that "we need a strong independent regulator that will ensure that supply authorities meet their obligations to supply safe drinking water to their communities.

"It was made very clear during the Havelock North investigation that there is a lack of education and training in the drinking water sector and as a result many small suppliers lack the capacity to supply safe drinking water.

"The two recent incidents in Martinborough strongly support that finding.

"We urgently need a new independent drinking water regulator with the knowledge and ability to enforce consistent and safe drinking water standards across the country."

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is currently undertaking a review of New Zealand's drinking water, storm water and waste water systems called the Three Waters Review.

In an update in March, the DIA said consultation is currently taking place for the review with a range of parties including representatives from Iwi/Māori groups, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Environment and local governments.

Cabinet is likely to consider policy advice and proposals for new regulatory arrangements in June this year.