Boil-Water Notice and Drinking Water Standards
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Drinking Water Standards
The Health (Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2007 (an amendment to the Health Act 1956) came into force on 1 July 2008. This requires Councils to monitor drinking water and to take all practicable steps to comply with the Drinking Water Standards (DWS) as well as to implement risk management plans.
Three main themes are covered under the DWS:
- Maximum Acceptable Values (water quality standards for microbial, chemical and radiological determinants)
- Compliance criteria and reporting requirements
- Remedial actions to be taken when non-compliance is detected.
There are currently 13 Council owned water schemes in the District, extracting drinking water from 22 different sources, with a further five sources for emergency backup supply as required. The schemes are overseen by Water Committees these committees have delegated responsibilities for the planning and development of their respective schemes, alongside Council officers.
Six of the water supply intakes are deemed as “minor” supplies under the Drinking Water Standards. These are required by Ministry of Health (MoH) to have an endorsed Public Health Risk Management Plan (PHRMP) in place before 1 July 2014. Three currently have approved PHRMPs and two are in draft format.
Eight of the water supply intakes are deemed as “small” supplies under the DWS, with an endorsed PHRMP required before 1 July 2015. Currently these PHRMPs are in draft format.
The remainder of supplies are either neighbourhood drinking water supplies (PHRMP to be endorsed no later than 1 July 2016) or rural agricultural supplies (for which we are awaiting release of compliance criteria from the MoH).
Six deep well sources are being age-tested in order to determine if the source can be designated as secure under DWS guidelines. Secure status will not only confirm good quality water but also save on future expenditure.
The Council is working closely with the Water Committees to ensure safe, secure and affordable drinking water for everyone from Council supplied drinking water schemes. Meeting full protozoal compliance (as required by the Drinking Water Standards for NZ 2005) will cost approximately $14,000,000 in capital improvements over the next few years. The Hurunui District currently have eight supply systems with permanent boil water notices, implying that these intakes are from high-risk waterways and have the potential for e-coli contamination above the maximum acceptable levels as set by the World Health Organisation. To meet the community need for safe water, the Council (alongside the respective Water Committees) has opted to install nine new Mixed Oxidant (MIOX) plants in 2012/2013 to these schemes.
Council intends to have nine new MIOX installations operational by the end of June 2013. All “Permanent Boil Water Notices” can then be removed. Preparation for these installations is currently ongoing, with the consignment arriving in November 2012, with installations starting shortly thereafter.
The current Cheviot MIOX plant will be relocated to the intake to ensure that all drinking-water provided from this scheme is safe. Council is aware that this decision and strategy has significantly impacted on water rates to these schemes, but this investment is well overdue. This is to ensure that all our customers are well served in terms of protecting their health and well-being now and into the future, thus “making our District even Better”.
This affordable approach will allow the Council peace of mind knowing that our supplies will be bacteriologically compliant and safe for all to drink. We will continue to work alongside the Canterbury Regional Council (ECan) to look for alternative deep well sources to mitigate the full compliance costs into the future.
The Ministry of Health has a Drinking Water Standard Subsidy scheme operating whereby Council can apply for assistance funding towards meeting the DWS requirements. However, there are limiting criteria associated with applications for this funding.
All applications for funding take into consideration the schemes current rating on the deprivation index. This index is a scale of 1 – 10, with 1 indicating the most affluent areas. Index assessments are carried out by the Ministry of Health. Funding is limited to those areas that have been assessed with a deprivation index higher than 7 or greater.
The Council was successful in obtaining the subsidy for Waiau Township in 2011. This has enabled us to progress improvements on the treatment and storage capacity of the township supply. These works are programmed for 2012-13.
Some plumbing fittings have the potential to allow minute traces of metals to accumulate in water that is standing in the fittings for several hours.
Although the health risk is small, the Ministry of Health recommends you flush a mugful of water from your drinking-water tap each morning before use to remove any metals which may have dissolved from the plumbing fittings.
We are recommending this simple precaution for all households, including those on public and private water supplies.