Water carriers boiling over Government chlorine bill

Posted at 8:00am Wednesday 17 Feb, 2021

Proposed new regulation would significantly increase compliance costs for water carriers.
Proposed new regulation would significantly increase compliance costs for water carriers.

Northern water carriers are frustrated by a new Water Services Bill that will require them to add chlorine to water delivered to residential water tanks.

The Water Services Bill is part of sweeping water management reforms introduced by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta, which has seen the establishment of a new central water regulator, Taumata Arowai.

A document prepared by Taumata Arowai laying out new proposed rules caught water carriers by surprise this month.

Companies in Rodney that Mahurangi Matters spoke to were shocked they had not been consulted on the proposed new rules, describing it as “cloak and dagger” behaviour.

The issue only came to light because the Northland District Health Board proactively notified carriers in the Kaipara District, who then passed the information on to Rodney colleagues.

Now businesses and residents have only until March 2 to make a submission on the proposed bill, which will then go forward for a second reading in Parliament.

The new rules would require carriers that source water from bores, instead of town supply, to treat their water with chlorine.

Water carriers would also be required to test the level of chlorine after filling their truck, as well as after delivering it to a tank.

For carriers like Solways Artesian Water in Warkworth, adding chlorine would defeat the purpose of their “pure” water product.

Owner Christine Walker says she has customers, such as organic brewers and those with sensitivities to chemicals, who require untreated water.

She says in addition to the cost of testing, having to test every load of water twice would add at least half-an-hour to each load, driving up the overall cost for consumers.

As a consequence, carriers will be tempted to switch to filling up from the town supply, leaving bores unused and increasing strain on town water.

“We won't be adding chlorine to the water from our aquifer, I can tell you that now,” Ms Walker says.

Artesian Solways continually tests its water and in 20 years of business has never found contaminants.

Steve Reynolds, of Aquafilter Rodney, says chlorine is only appropriate for treatment plants and adding it to residential water tanks may, in fact, be dangerous.

He says chlorine is known to react with organic debris in water such as leaves, and create carcinogens.

He says the bill will not just affect water carriers, but also rural cafes, which will be required to register as a water source and comply with regulation.

Steve says it is not yet time to panic, but he is encouraging businesses and residents to submit on the bill.

He hopes that the proposed rules will be amended to allow for carriers and other businesses to use treatment methods such as UV light and ozone which do not require chemicals.

To make a submission, visit www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_99655/water-services-bill


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