Editorial: Chlorine brought in by bulldozer

Thursday July 04, 2019 Written by Published in Opinion
Editorial: Chlorine brought in by bulldozer

The debate over chlorinating the Rarotonga water supply is a shambolic and sometimes shameful display of poor information, bad information and misinformation.


This is sad, because everyone has a stake in a decision of this size. This is where government becomes something  affecting the day-to-day life of every person on our biggest island.

There are good arguments against chlorine, though you wouldn’t know it from some of the conspiracy-theories circulated online. Personally I don’t like the taste of chlorine in my water – but I reckon our cafes will filter that out. As for last week’s claim that it causes a 93 per cent increase in cancer – that is false and reckless scare-mongering.

I’d rather take on the one-in-a-thousand risk that chlorine contribute to cancer in old age, than the extraordinarily high risk of severe illness and death caused by the water-borne illnesses that have plagued the Cooks and developing nations.

So yes, there are also good arguments for chlorine in our drinking water – though you wouldn’t know it from To Tatou Vai’s failure to enunciate them.

Water-borne illnesses are the world’s leading cause of death, according to the World Health Organisation. They kill 3.4 million people a year. 4,000 children a day die from diseases caused by drinking filthy water.

There are several tools to minimise  water-borne illnesses. Chlorine is not the nicest – but it is the most effective. It is the backstop used by the world’s wealthiest nations when sophisticated protections fail. It is a crying shame To Tatou Vai didn’t invest more in explaining the disinfection options, educating people, listening to them.

Instead, they disregarded their sham consultation and bulldozed through their plans with disregard for the community. Chlorine may be a flawed solution, it may be a good solution – it may even be the best solution. But we’ll never know, because that decision was made before the public had a chance to debate it.

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