Deputy prime minister Mark Brown came under fire in Parliament yesterday for failing to properly put other options to the public.
Opposition MP Selina Napa questioned whether officials were listening to community opposition to chlorine, at consultation meetings around the island. If the majority of people said no, she asked, would the government go ahead and chlorinate the drinking water anyway?
Brown was clear: He said the government would have the final say on how to disinfect drinking water distributed through the new pipeline.
The primary purpose of the consultation was to explain government’s goal of delivering clean drinkable water once the Te Mato Vai project is finished, he explained.
“The most important aspect of this consultation is to ensure there is no misinformation and that people do not use misinformation for political reasons.
“And we will determine out of the options available to us, what is the best way to disinfect our water,” Brown said.
“Let’s be clear, the priority of this government is to ensure the safety of our people when they drink water from our taps.
“Therefore if it is determined that chlorination is the safest and best way to ensure our water is clean for our people to drink and if the information is based on sound scientific facts and not social media speculation, then we will make that decision because this is a government that is not afraid of making hard decisions.
“This is a government that makes decisions based on the long-term interests of our country and our people and not the short term fear of political ramifications.”
Brown said there were a number of options for disinfecting the water for public households and all of them have been taken into consideration.
“These options will be investigated further because there are pros and cons with each approach and we will make sure that we will endeavour to choose the best option for our country and for our people to ensure their safety when they drink water from our taps.”
An independent political poll run by Cook Islands News last month found 42
per cent preferred no disinfection; 31 per cent said they supported UV treatment as their favoured alternative water disinfection.
Twelve per cent chose chemical treatment such as chlorine, 10 per cent opted for electro-chemical, and three per cent chose ozone.