OPINION: Drinking water has been back in the headlines this week, with the release of the independent review of how the city council not only lost its secure status, (which led to the temporary chlorination decision) but also why this happened with absolutely no warning.
Understanding how we got to this situation, will help us chart our way back to staying chlorine-free in the future, but it is disappointing that we were not alerted much sooner to the risk that our secure status was under threat. What the report says was missing was a robust, integrated risk management approach that kept everyone in the loop.
The report also highlighted the importance of having a cohesive system to manage, monitor and report compliance with all criteria, including managing providers, and sharing information across providers and internally.It’s a real wake-up call.
Essentially the report confirms that along with the chief executive and her most senior managers, elected members were completely in the dark when the clock started ticking. That’s not good enough.
The report goes on to say that this failure to report up would not have prevented the decision to chlorinate.
However, if we had been aware of the risk and the consequences right at the start, the water supply improvement programme could have been established straight away, and a fully integrated plan of attack could have been developed, before we were even faced with the loss of secure status and the chlorination decision.
And as a community, you would have been fully aware of what was happening, and not caught by surprise.
We have already learned from this experience and remain absolutely committed to getting the chlorine out of our pristine drinking water supply.
This report tells us if we get that right, we can keep it that way.
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