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Greens warn of more gastro outbreaks

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/05/2017

The safety of tap water can no longer be taken for granted and unless lakes, rivers and aquifers are cleaned up there will be more contamination crises, the Greens say.

They're reacting to an inquiry report, released on Wednesday, into the Havelock North gastro outbreak last August that was caused by contaminated water.

About 5500 people were struck down with campylobacter and the outbreak was linked to the deaths of three elderly people.

The report identified major failings by Hastings and Hawke's Bay Regional councils in their responsibilities to deliver safe drinking water, and concluded the outbreak likely came from sheep faeces travelling through a "vulnerable" aquifer.

Catherine Delahunty, the Green's water spokeswoman, says tap water must be clean.

"It's not good enough to say we'll just chlorinate the water and that will take care of pollution," she said.

''More than 5000 people getting sick from the water in their own taps was horrific - if we don't take action to clean up our rivers, lakes and aquifers we will face issues like this more often."

Ms Delahunty says the Havelock North incident was "the canary in the coal mine".

"We need to look at infrastructure and land uses to ensure the water in our aquifers, many of which supply drinking water, are kept safe."

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