Gotta give it to Tararua Mayor Maureen Reynolds for optimism.
She says (according to the Manawatu Standard) it will be impossible to come up with the dosh needed to improve her district’s drinking water – a matter of more than $13 million – without help from the Government.
Doesn’t she know we are lopping public spending, or trying to, because of the widening budget deficit and Standard and Poors putting us on credit watch and all that fiscal stuff?
But it’s worth finding out who says this money must be spent on improving the water supply, rather than – say – on helping Alf cover his electorate with a new Porsche.
Answer: the bloody Ministry of Health, the same killjoy bastards who persistently want us to give up the good things in life, like pies, and fish and chips, and a bloody good cigar with our brandy, because of some obesity epidemic they are banging on about.
Ministry mandarins have told the district council it must take urgent action to improve its D and E drinking-water grading.
As the Manawatu Standard tells us,
It would need to find a new water source or install high-power treatment plants to reach the grading.
As part of the Health Drinking Water Amendment Act passed in 2007 the Government will contribute funding to help small communities get water up to standard.
But the Labour Party’s water quality spokesman Brendon Burns said the funding was now in question and it could be up to small communities to fund their own water quality.
Therein lies the rub for Mayor Reynolds.
Tararua can’t find the money for improvements from its small number of ratepayers.
Woodville, Pahiatua and Eketahuna would receive some funding, it seems, but Dannevirke is considered large enough to be able to fund itself.
But here’s where Brendon Bloody Burns is out of order with his reported statement that the funding is now in question and it could be up to small communities to fund their own water quality.
As it happens (and as readers of this blog well know), the Government is reviewing the rules on drinking water quality because of the costs being heaped on councils and communities.
Those rules were changed by the Clark Gang two years ago – when Nanny State was flourishing – to make council compliance on the water standards mandatory.
But Local Government Minister Rodney Hide has said the rules need to be reviewed so the Government has a clear understanding of their cost.
Actually, he described the drinking water standards (introduced last June) as “ridiculous” and “over the top” and is asking for a moratorium on their implementation.
Health Minister Tony Ryall is considering the request for a review of compliance around the standards.
The Nelson Mail reports him as saying:
“In the present economic situation it is important that government requirements are best value for money and minimise pressures on cash-strapped ratepayers…”
The Tasman District Council is welcoming Hide’s calls for a review, because the water quality standards have added more than $13 million to the cost of the council’s 10-year plan.
Brendon Burns has been making a big fuss about the Government ignoring a Ministry of Health review last month that found 800,000 New Zealanders are drinking water that is not safe.
But who’s to say the numbers aren’t a load of bollocks.
Hide is questioning the ministry’s statistics.
Mayor Reynolds is questioning them, too, along with the need for urgent action to be taken.
“The Ministry set these standards, but they have no facts to show anyone in our district is getting sick from the water.
“People say to us `We are not getting sick so why should we pay for it’.”
Which is pretty much what Alf was arguing a few days ago.