Dunno if Alf’s previous posting did the prompting, but Brendon Burns burst into life with another press release early this afternoon.
It was too late for World Water Day, which expired at midnight, but it was all about water and water quality.
Burns told us drinking water standards are being reviewed by the Government and he said one in five New Zealanders are drinking ‘‘at risk” water. This happily excludes Alf, because he stopped drinking the stuff when he observed fish fucking in it.
Burns – who is Labour’s water quality spokesman – went on to flail at Local Government Minister Rodney Hide for telling a community board
conference in Christchurch last Friday that the new water-quality standards are “ridiculous.”
Get that? Hide said something last Friday, and Burns has taken all weekend to come up with a party rejoinder.
The comments emerge as World Water Day was yesterday marked around the planet to focus on the importance of safe drinking water supplies.
“Mr Hide is not alone in seeking to reject new water standards. One of the 20 suggestions of the recent jobs summit was a moratorium on the new water and air standards,” Brendon Burns said.
“This Government is completely ignoring its own Ministry of Health which only last month published its annual review of drinking water quality. It shows that 20 percent of New Zealanders are drinking water that isn’t tested for killer diseases like E coli and giardia or fails to meet the minimum standards.
“This means as many as 800,000 New Zealanders – not to mention tourists on whom the Prime Minister puts much focus – are drinking water that by world measure is not safe,” Brendon Burns said.
He noted that the Ministry of Health is calling for urgent corrective action by councils in the Buller, Westland, Hurunui, Waitaki, Kawerau,Tararua and South Wairarapa districts, “because the water is simply not safe to drink.”
Tararua? That’s your blogger’s home patch.
And yes, there are some issues about our water supply, but Alf hasn’t heard of any locals dropping dead as a consequence of drinking the water.
Nor of anyone going down with tummy upsets.
But Burns wanted us to know the Labour Government (the one dumped by the voters at the last election) “recognised the challenge posed to smaller councils and introduced funding of $136m over ten years to help them lift water quality standards”
“Continuation of this funding is now in question. Mr Hide signalled in Parliament earlier this month that it is now up to councils and small communities to meet the costs of meeting minimum standards.”
Burns went on to say New Zealand’s reputation as a first-world country and as a tourist destination is in jeopardy, when Kiwis and visitors can’t rely “on the basic human right of being safe when drinking tap water.”
Alf doesn’t have the statistics in front of him. But he suspects many more people die from swimming than from drinking tap water.
The tourists keep coming anyway.