This story appeared on The AM Show’s 6am and 8.30am news bulletins on 17 January 2018. Fantastic exposure for what is a very serious issue.
The results of a national water perception survey, organised by Safe H2O, a New Zealand water purification business, have revealed that a staggering number of Kiwis wouldn’t know what to do if they were cut off from a clean water supply. Forty-six percent have no emergency plans in place at all. Of that number, 29% assume that their local council would look after them and provide clean water. Only 27% claim that they have a plan and a good back up water supply.
Despite the relaxed attitude towards emergency planning, almost three-quarters of Kiwis (74%) have been concerned about the quality and safety of their water over the past 12 months. Eighty-seven percent are somewhat concerned that their clean water supply could be cut off or restricted – with 41% worrying about it on a regular basis. Just over 50% of respondents suspect that they or someone they know has been sick as a result of their drinking water.
The owners of Safe H2O, Tracey and Chad Meads, believe that the lack of preparation could put New Zealand households in a difficult and potentially dangerous situation should their water supply be compromised.
“Access to clean, safe water should never be underappreciated. You only have to look at Havelock North to understand the consequences of drinking water from a contaminated source,” explains Chad. “Water availability was also a serious problem during the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes. Whether you live rurally or in a town or city, it only takes a natural disaster or a nasty bug like norovirus to disrupt the entire water supply.”
Chad and his team would like to see more Kiwis putting stringent plans in place to protect themselves from emergency situations. This includes having at least a three day supply of bottled water available, and learning how to sterilise their own water when needed.
Safe H2O is also encouraging councils to put mobile emergency water filtration systems in place. Safe H2O uses micro and nano filtration technology, created by Forsi Innovations in Matamata to clean and purify water supplies, removing pathogens and contaminants such as e-coli and norovirus. Each mobile unit is capable of producing several thousand litres of water per hour. They are able to take water from any source and transform it into pure, safe water. They can even use reverse osmosis to turn salt water into drinking water.
“The first response during water supply emergencies needs to be quicker and households need to be better equipped and more informed,” says Chad. “There have been multiple water safety concerns in New Zealand over the past six months alone, and it will continue to be a challenge until more sophisticated systems and processes are put in place. A lot of cost, time and worry could be avoided simply by being prepared.”
The Safe H2O national water perception survey ran from November to December 2017 – 705 people participated.
For more information on Safe H2O, visit safeh2o.co.nz.
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