Water  |  16 May 2023

Government water regulator Taumata Arowai has advised that it will decline Christchurch City Council’s first chlorine exemption applications, which has come as a bitter disappointment to the elected Council.

The remaining 20% of the Christchurch and Banks Peninsula water supply is now required to be chlorinated which will take a number of weeks.

Staff are beginning this process from today and it will be the end of the month before the first areas have chlorine reintroduced.

“My colleagues and I are outraged to learn of this decision and know many Christchurch residents will feel the same,” Mayor Phil Mauger says.

“The exemptions have always been presented to us as something we would be able to achieve but today we’ve been advised that the exemption has been declined and the water supply has to be chlorinated to be compliant,” he says.

The Council always intended to apply for exemptions on a zone-by-zone basis and started this process in October 2022 with an application for Brooklands-Kainga, as this water zone was identified as having the best chance of getting an exemption due to the quality of infrastructure and groundwater.

The Water Services Act 2021 makes it mandatory for owners of reticulated water supplies to add a residual disinfectant – chlorine – to the water unless they obtain an exemption from Taumata Arowai.

“They have dashed our hopes of this today,” Mayor Mauger says.

The Mayor has today written to Taumata Arowai requesting the Chief Executive comes to a public Council meeting to explain their position around exemptions.

“While we’re being forced to chlorinate our water supply we will continue to fight and advocate for the people of Christchurch,” he says.

“We’ve heard that if we want to gain exemptions for any of our water supply zones, we’ll need to go over and above the standards set out by the Government. To achieve this, we’d have to make substantial upgrades to our water supply network at the cost of millions of dollars,” Mr Mauger says.

“This would be a huge investment considering its unlikely that we would ever be granted an exemption for the city. I feel as a Council we have been led up the garden path by Taumata Arowai.”