Anti-chlorine campaigns want action over water

Clean water campaigner Jennifer Rumore is not pleased with Queenstown Lakes drinking water. PHOTO...
Clean water campaigner Jennifer Rumore is not pleased with Queenstown Lakes drinking water. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Residents campaigning against the permanent chlorination of their water supply are calling for urgent action to improve drinking water standards.

The Arthurs Point Clean Water Group formed earlier this year to fight against Queenstown Lakes District Council's proposals to permanently chlorinate water across the district for ``public health'' reasons.

Sue Bradley, a spokeswoman for the group, said she was ``disappointed that the council has chosen to pursue grand plans for a new town centre'' with its 10-year plan 2018-28, rather than improving key infrastructure in the district.

``We had beautiful pure drinking water prior with no track record of problems and a mostly modern system.

``It wouldn't have taken too much to reprioritise to get this up to par so we could have looked at getting the chlorine out.''

Ms Bradley said in the original consultation document for the council's 10-year plan, residents were given the chance to vote on option one - meeting New Zealand Water Standards by 2027-28 - or option two - reprioritising the programme to comply with the standards by 2022-23.

She said most of the smaller communities voiced their support for the second option. Water supplies in central Queenstown and Wanaka were already treated permanently with chlorine.

Council communications adviser Campbell Weal said the decision to use chlorine as a choice of water treatment was an ``operational decision''.

He said council-operated drinking water supplies were safe.

Of the residents who took part in the consultation, 56.22% voted in favour of the council planning to meet the standards by 2028 rather than reprioritising the programme.

The council's final plan stated further investment would be made to ensure existing facilities across the district met drinking water standards by 2028.

The Arthurs Point Clean Water Group is calling for minimal chlorine levels to be used in the Queenstown suburb, for a pre-treatment tap to be made available and for money to be set aside for research into alternative approaches.

Hawea Stand for Pure Water spokeswoman Jennifer Rumore said the way the council had conducted itself in the matter was ``wholly shocking''.

``Chlorine is a toxic chemical used to kill bacteria. It kills indiscriminately.

``That means the brain or our immune system, our gut bacteria, gets knocked for every interaction with chlorine it gets.''

Ms Rumore compared the council's plan to a ``Band-Aid approach'' and also criticised Water New Zealand for ``its insistence district and city councils chlorinate their water after what happened in Hawke's Bay''. The council proposed permanent chlorination of all council-provided water supplies across the district after the Havelock North water contamination crisis in 2016.

It has already allocated $500,000 in the 2017-18 budget to permanently chlorinate the water supplies in Arrowtown, Arthur's Point, Glenorchy, Hawea and Luggate.

Glenorchy residents have also campaigned against the permanent chlorination of their water supply.

The council has organised a Smaller Communities Catch Up meeting to discuss the chlorination of the district's water supply and other issues.

The meeting will be held on August 9 at 2pm in the Council Chambers in Queenstown.


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