Published On: Mon, Apr 13th, 2015

Plumbsolvency and Subsidies: The State of Drinking Water in New Zealand

Access to clean and safe drinking water is something that many of us take for granted, especially when you look at the struggles that some countries face to achieve this important goal.

New Zealand is no different to any other developed country in that the authorities have to continually monitor and try to improve the state of the drinking water, so that it is considered safe to drink every time we turn on the tap.

Plumbsolvent waters

In New Zealand, the traces of heavy metals that are likely to be found in the water are lead, cadmium, copper, antimony and nickel.

Plumbsolvent waters are able to dissolve tiny amounts of metals if and when they come into contact with them. This will inevitably lead to small amounts of these heavy metals finding their way into the water system

All water is plumbsolvent to a certain degree but when the water is soft and very slightly acidic, this allows the metals to be dissolved readily.

Heavy metals are a definite health concern when they come from drinking water or any other source and this why the Ministry of Health has issued their guide Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand. This guide states that every water supply authority has to provide their consumers with advice on how to avoid exposure to high levels of heavy metals in their water supply.

 photo D. Sharon Pruitt from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, USA

photo D. Sharon Pruitt from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, USA

Your water authority has a duty to advise you if the water you are being supplied with is plumbsolvent. As most natural waters in New Zealand are generally found to be soft and mildly acidic in nature, all water supplies are actually classified as plumbsolvent, until the water supply authority is able to demonstrate that their particular supply is not.

Safe drinking water

If you want to ensure that your water is as clean and free from bacteria and traces of metal as possible, you might want to consider using a water filter.

You can get more information from a resource like Berkey Water Filter Info and in the meantime, you will no doubt want to know whether the drinking water in your area is actually considered safe to drink straight from the tap.

Although you may feel safer and enjoy cleaner water to drink by using a filter, you may also take some comfort from the fact that the Ministry of Health is constantly monitoring the state of the country’s water supply. During 2013/14, they reported that bacterial compliance was achieved for 97.2% of the population and chemical compliance came in at 97.4%.

The presence of Protozoa

Protozoa are sometimes considered by scientists as the primary hunters and grazers of the microbial world, as they play a pivotal role in maintaining the balance of bacterial and microbial life in general.

These protozoa mainly feed on bacteria and the vast majority of them cause no particular harm to humans. There are protozoal standards that water authorities have to adhere to and presently, they are achieving an average 80%, which shows that there is room for improvement to contain these microbial contaminants in the water supply.

Water safety plans

Constant work is ongoing to keep the water supply in New Zealand as safe as possible and water safety plans are always being developed and implemented by each drinking water supplier, to identify and manage any risks that present themselves and threaten the quality of the water supply.

The number of households that receive water from a supplier who operates under an approved water safety plan is equal to 94.6% of the population, and covers about 3.6 million people. Having an approved water safety plan in place means that there is a clearly defined monitoring system and a recognised plan of action that comes into force, if and when a contamination is identified.

If you are not sure, check with your water supply authority to confirm if they have a water safety plan and whether the water supply to your household is covered under this arrangement. By having a water safety plan, the supplier is deemed to be doing everything they can to achieve constant compliance of the standards required and under the terms of compliance, they will also be required to implement any measures required to maintain that standard at all times.

Drinking water subsidies

It is vital to meet microbiological standards in order to prevent outbreaks of disease, and this is one of the reasons why drinking water subsidies exist for any small or disadvantaged communities.

Communities can apply for a drinking water subsidy if they need help to improve the quality of their water supply, provided they meet the eligibility criteria which is outlined in the documentation.

There is always room for improvement and using a water filter in your household can certainly help improve the quality of your drinking water, but from the figures produced, a good number of households in New Zealand are receiving water that is constantly monitored for its quality and safety levels.

Walter Adams is an American writer, blogger and travel journalist. As a journalist he has worked in news wire services, magazines, newspapers and radio. He has a B.S. in Languages and Linguistics, with a focus on Political Science from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He has taught German and history in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He has worked in Latin America, Asia and Europe.

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