CE: Drinking water standards set high bar for councils

Published: 8 February 2024

Supplying safe and reliable drinking water is a core, and sometimes complex part of Council business – it’s also a topic you will hear about during our Long Term Plan consultation process.

Having a reliable water source is only part of the matter; you also need water treatment plants, a pipe network to deliver it, and robust monitoring and testing programmes.

A good part of rates to be collected in 2024-25 will go towards upgrading Council’s water treatment plants – by adding more monitoring from abstraction right through to delivery, by testing more and by upgrading filtration and treatment processes.

That’s not to say that our water is not safe, it is, but new drinking water standards that came into force in November 2022 set the bar high for all those who manage and supply drinking water. In some cases, the new compliance means we have to add on to existing water treatment plants, or build new ones.

We are committed to providing high quality drinking water from all our Council supplies and the Long Term Plan out for consultation next month will detail the work planned for the next few years and how much it is likely to cost.

Drinking water supplies are critical to the communities they serve and that is why much time and energy is needed on them.

This week Councillors talked about the future of the Fairton drinking water supply. This supply needs about $1m spent on it to be compliant with the new standards. Another option was for Council to spend the same money on a new pipeline connecting the Ashburton drinking water supply to Fairton.

The ability to meet compliance, now and in the future, is part of the discussion and closer monitoring of water use, as a Council or as an individual, will become the way of the future as it is a resource too precious to waste.

This week has also seen the first Council meeting of the year, in the new chamber Hine Paaka.

If you are in Te Whare Whakatere, the library and civic building, at any meeting time, then feel free to see democracy in action - if the door is open, come in and take a seat in the public gallery. Meeting details will be posted on digital screens at the door, and members of the public can access the chamber from Level 1 of the library.

As it has turned out, the new chamber is in the same spot as the old chamber in the former Ashburton County Council building that once stood on the site.

Wednesday’s meeting was the first opportunity to test out all the technology – the chambers has five digital screens, including a specific screen for those in the public gallery, as well as cameras that will be able to show councillors as they debate and ask questions around the council table.

Council meetings and many workshops are livestreamed and recorded on our Facebook page, and agendas with information about what is to be discussed are on our website ashburtondc.govt.nz.

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