Mail-in service launched for water testing

Following multiple days of testing southern water samples for nitrate contamination, Greenpeace has now launched a mail-in service.

Greenpeace ran several testing days in communities across Canterbury and Southland in winter, testing more than 400 bore-sourced drinking water samples for nitrate contamination.

Riversdale was one of the towns — 28 bores were tested there using a spectrometer, and levels ranging from 5.19mg/l to 8.88mg/l were found.

The maximum level allowed in New Zealand is 11.3mg/l, which is the level set by the World Health Organisation as the limit necessary to avoid blue baby syndrome.

Winton resident Margaret Dynes shared her own concerns on the topic with the Southland District Council last week.

She was one of the town’s residents who headed to a Greenpeace testing site, and said her water tested at 4.18mg/l.

She told councillors the higher levels found in the region were not acceptable.

Ms Dynes also acknowledged research being undertaken to determine any link between cancer and nitrate levels.

‘‘On a personal level, nitrates in my water have had a negative effect on my body.

‘‘I now buy bottled water and collect rain water just as villagers do in Vietnam daily.’’

She felt the council had the power to do something.

Cr Paul Duffy told her he had been a dairy farmer his whole life and agreed with her, but noted it was not just dairy farming pushing up the levels.

Greenpeace senior campaigner Steve Abel said everybody should be able to trust that their tap water was safe to drink.

He said intensive dairying caused nitrate levels to spike, due to too much synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and too much cow urine seeping into groundwater.

‘‘We are pleased to be able to offer mail-in water testing for people,’’ he said.

If they consented, bore owners’ data would be shared with researchers at the University of Otago,

whose findings would ‘‘contribute to much-needed local understanding of nitrate contamination of groundwater’’.

People interested in having their bore-sourced drinking water tested could order a free testing kit online.

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