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Brought to you by Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora – Southern and WellSouth primary health network

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Safe drinking water

Many people think that if your water looks clean and tastes clean then it must be safe to drink.

This is one of the measures of clean water but the bugs in water that can make you sick are so small they are invisible to the naked eye. There are national standards that define what makes water actually safe. The characteristics of water that can determine the safety of it are:

  • Chemical e.g. level of heavy metals, arsenic or nitrates
  • Microbial e.g. the bugs that make us sick like bacteria or protozoa
  • Physical e.g. turbidity = dissolved matter in the water that changes the colour and makes treating the water hard

Your drinking water can become unsafe to drink in many different ways. There could be a farm upstream with animals pooing in the water or a dead animal in it that you don’t know about. Safe drinking water is really important for good public health as it protects people from a number of diseases and other contaminants. Public Health South works to achieve this by having an Internationally (IANZ) accredited Drinking Water Team who monitor and assess the quality of water supplies throughout the district.

On a day to day basis the DWA’s:

  • Assist small water supplies via a Drinking Water Assistance Programme and providing advice/guidance
  • Assessing water suppliers Water Safety Plans
  • Being aware of cyanobacterial blooms and issuing health warnings.

If you would like any further information please contact your nearest Drinking Water Assessor.