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Greenpeace brings free nitrate water testing to Taranaki and Waikato

This weekend, Greenpeace is conducting free drop-in water testing days to enable Taranaki and Waikato households to check their drinking water for nitrate contamination.

Greenpeace head of campaigns, Amanda Larsson, says “Access to safe healthy drinking water is a fundamental human right, but many rural communities are at risk of high levels of nitrate contamination in their drinking water, which can lead to increased risk of health impacts.”

Greenpeace will be running free drinking water testing in Hāwera on the 2nd of March, New Plymouth on the 3rd of March, and Tokoroa on the 4th of March. These follow more than a dozen in-person water testing events that the organisation has run since 2021.

“We’re providing this free water testing to give rural communities the opportunity to know what’s in their drinking water,” says Larsson.

“All you need to bring is a sample of your tap water, and we can test it for nitrate while you wait. Run your kitchen tap for one minute and fill a clean container with 200 mls of water and bring it along.”

A growing body of research has shown that even small amounts of nitrate contamination in drinking water can increase the likelihood of health risks such as bowel cancer and preterm birth.

“Synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and cow urine from dairy farms are the main sources of nitrate contamination of drinking water,” says Larsson.

“As the dairy industry intensified, the amount of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser being applied to the land grew, and so we’ve seen a corresponding increase in nitrate contamination of rural people’s drinking water over the last thirty years.”

Greenpeace launched its ‘Know Your Nitrate’ map at the end of 2023, which uses both Greenpeace’s own testing results, as well as data from Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA), GNS Science and local councils to make known drinking water nitrate data publically available in map form.

“The Know Your Nitrate map is designed to inform and warn the public of the potential health risks of nitrate in drinking water. It can give you some idea of what contamination levels might be in an area, but people should get their water tested to be sure,” says Larsson.

“No matter where you live, you should be able to safely drink the water coming out of your kitchen tap without worrying that it will make you or your family sick. But for many rural communities, this is now at risk.”

 

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