Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dirty air, dirty water

Earlier in the month, we learned that the government was "reviewing" air quality standards, with the aim of weakening them to allow more air pollution. Now they've followed up by attacking drinking water standards, delaying the date by which local authorities must provide clean drinking water to their citizens by up to three years.

This is a basic health issue. Small rural communities in particular frequently have unsafe water supplies, while even some large cities have problems in some areas (ESR has a drill down map here so you can check; the data is 2006/07). The previous government was working towards fixing that by imposing new standards and putting up $137 million to help communities meet them, but the current government has just thrown it into the "too hard basket". The real motive here seems to be avoiding rate rises in rural communities - but what farmers save in rates, people will pay for in illness. It is a remarkably short-sighted policy.