Drinking Water :: New Zealand urges more councils and water suppliers to use technical assistance

The Ministry of Health is encouraging councils and drinking water suppliers need to make greater use of the Government?s drinking water technical assistance programme.

The Technical Assistance Programme provides technical assistance to small water suppliers. Any supplier serving fewer than 5000 people can participate, and there is no charge. It is of particular help in assisting suppliers to meet their obligations under the upcoming Health (Drinking Water) Amendment Bill.

There has been good uptake for the programme, with 520 suppliers now enrolled to receive technical assistance. There are also 100 technical assistance groups operating, whereby suppliers are encouraged to get together and pool their expertise and experiences.

The technical assistance programme is an important part of the government?s overall strategy to improve drinking water. This strategy has helped suppliers improve New Zealand?s drinking water in recent years. However, there are still over 500,000 Kiwis receiving water from supplies that do not comply with the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards. The technical assistance programme, along with significant capital assistance and the Drinking Water Bill, aims to improve this level of compliance.

The Ministry of Health’s principal public health engineer Paul Prendergast said an added bonus from participation in the technical assistance programme was the realisation that many expensive upgrades that suppliers had thought were necessary could be avoided through improved management of the supply, better utilisation of existing infrastructure and better training of supply operators.

“There has been a great deal of concern from some suppliers about the likely cost of compliance with the upcoming Drinking Water Bill. Large dollar amounts have been bandied about but many suppliers don?t realise what improvements can be achieved with their existing infrastructure and staff,” said Mr Prendergast.

The Government will soon announce the first of the capital assistance grants to water suppliers.

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