Reducing the health burden from contaminated drinking water in NZ: Opportunities arising from the new Water Services Bill

Monday, August 10th, 2020 | tedla55p | 1 Comment

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Dr Tim Chambers, Prof Nick Wilson, Jayne Richards, A/Prof Simon Hales, Dr Mike Joy, Prof Michael Baker (author affiliations*)

Increasing water-related health threats, notably the waterborne campylobacter outbreak in Havelock North, have highlighted failings in NZ’s regulatory system for drinking water. In this blog we consider how the new Water Services Bill might provide a framework to enable the new water regulator, Taumata Arowai, to oversee, administer and enforce new drinking water regulations. We also detail how addressing the upstream determinants of water-related disease burden is a far better approach than treating water that has already become contaminated. The COVID-19 experience also raises the benefits of consolidating NZ’s public health organisations into a single highly competent national public health agency, which may have implications for reform of drinking water safety.

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Protecting Fresh Waterways in Aotearoa/NZ: The Strong Public Health Case

Thursday, October 17th, 2019 | tedla55p | No Comments

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Nick Wilson, Leah Grout, Mereana Wilson, Anja Mizdrak, Phil Shoemack, Michael Baker

Protecting waterways has the benefits of: (1) protecting water from hazardous microbes; (2) minimising cancer risk and other problems from nitrates in water; (3) avoiding algal blooms that are hazardous to health; (4) protecting mahinga kai uses (cultural importance and food security); (5) facilitating safe recreational water use; (6) minimising flooding risks from silted up waterways; and (7) protecting renewable energy from waterway sediments. In this blog we briefly consider these issues and why health workers and agencies should now do submissions on protecting waterways to the Ministry for the Environment, as part of a current consultation process which ends on 31 October.

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