Written By: - Date published: 11:18 am, September 1st, 2016 - 11 comments
Categories: disaster, Environment, farming, health and safety, International, water - Tags: Environment, health, infrastructure, water
So bang on cue, just when NZ has been hitting the front pages of international newspapers because of the water contamination in Havelock North; and just when the possibility of a national discussion around our abysmal levels of negligence and stupidity might be about to gather steam – along comes “World Water Week”
The Guardian is running a few features off the back of it, and when I read the following passages from micro-biologist Joan Rose, my thoughts immediately went to Havelock North. The bit that really struck me was that health issues persisted long after the particular strain of E. coli had been removed from the water supply. Oh yeah – and people went to jail over that one after the government launched the Walkerton Commission inquiry.
Anyway, putting aside the links I’ve provided that might allow for uncomfortable comparisons to be drawn between Havelock North, Walkerton and respective government responses, here’s the excerpt from The Guardian piece that made me sit up and take notice.
In May 2000, around half of Walkerton’s 5,000 residents fell severely ill and seven people died when cow manure washed into a well. The extent of the water pollution in the small Canadian town was concealed from the public, people drank from their taps and the result was ruined lives.
For academic microbiologist Joan Rose, who has observed water pollution outbreaks around the world, it was the worst that she had ever experienced.
“It affected me the most. Walkerton is a small small farming community. The people there were very gracious. Two pathogens came in to their water supply. They did not know children would die, or would suffer kidney failure and be on on dialysis for the rest of their lives. I saw what it did to people. I saw the pain.”