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Water standard seen as risk for children

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 12/10/2016

A group of student campaigners says the government's freshwater standard for rivers and lakes poses a particular risk for children.

Choose Clean Water will ask Parliament's local government and environment select committee on Thursday to reject the government's "wadeable" standard.

Instead, it wants "swimmable" as New Zealand's bottom line.

Choose Clean Water campaigner Marnie Prickett says both standards are based on the amount of E. coli bacteria present, which is an indicator of faecal contamination.

"At the government's 'wadeable' standard, people walking or boating in water have a 5 per cent risk of campylobacter infection," the Massey University student said.

"That's one person in 20."

She said what was concerning was that infection rates were based on threats to the health of adults and the risks were likely to be greater for children.

If a class of school children went through a stream with the "wadeable" standard of contamination, she said, more than one of them would be at risk of going home infected.

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