Carriers supplying H20 to local water tank residents will be forced to add chlorine to their load if a looming water bill is approved by government, the chemical likening the supply to ‘almost city water’, and if new testing rules prove too demanding, carriers may even close down.
From mid-2021, new water services regulator, Taumata Arowai, will be in charge of managing the country’s drinking water with their Water Services Bill, designed to ‘help promote drinking water safety’, passing the first reading late last year.
Among many changes outlined in the 'Draft Drinking Water Supply Operational Compliance Rules', carriers will be required to add chlorine to their tanker as well as test every load on filling as well as on delivery.
With public submissions for the Water Bill closing at midnight on March 2, local water carrier Kelvin Platt, of Mangawhai Water, is asking for the community’s help to have their say on the new bill.
“A lot of the new regulations will be unworkable for water carriers like ourselves who supply for a small area like Mangawhai, we’re too remote to logistically cart water in from Wellsford or Bream Bay,” he says. “By adding chlorine we’re basically delivering town water, and customers having no choice also worries us… we’re hoping local people will put in submissions.”
The new regulations will possibly also affect any place which supplies water, such as schools and buildings like The Hub at Mangawhai Village.
Mangawhai Water have been selling clean, regulated and tested water sourced in Mangawhai for many years ‘but now they want us to add bleach’, and daily testing requirements, Platt says, is unfeasible.
“Mangawhai is different from other areas as it’s 40 minutes from Wellsford in a truck… in drought times between The Water Boy and my company, we’d deliver six loads together in a day, we’d probably only be able to do half of that under the new rules… so we’d have to charge more,” he says. “If the two main carriers in Mangawhai give up because it’s too hard, with the time restraints and costs, the logistics of other suppliers trucking water in is not workable.”
Adding chlorinated water to a tank which may have organic leaf matter is also a health hazard Platt says as it can become carcinogenic.
“The Australian government tell you on their website not do it,” he says. “Our government department have kept the new regulations really quiet. I only found out by accident through the DHB. If it gets too hard we could just give up… they just need to have more consultation with us.”
New treatment and testing rules could apply to water supply carriers under a proposed Bill.