Christchurch drinking water

Christchurch has always had excellent quality drinking water. In fact, NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmosphere) said 10 years ago, that it is one of the best water supplies in the world. However, things can change. Scientists check the water quality frequently and at the moment it is still excellent.

It does not have any chemicals added to it because it comes from very deep aquifers (underground water) and is filtered through river gravel and sand. This makes the water clean. Many people complain when chlorine (Cl2) is added to their drinking water to kill bugs. It makes the water safe to drink but chlorine has a smell and taste. Most places in New Zealand have chlorine added to their water but not Christchurch.

However, when many people in Havelock North last year became sick from their water, this was a wake-up call. The water for that town was also taken from aquifers in the ground but it had become contaminated.

Now engineers in Christchurch have checked the bore heads (the top of the bores / wells) and they say that some are damaged and need repair. There is no risk to the water quality right now but the Christchurch City Council thinks it is better to chlorinate the water for a year until the bore heads have been repaired. After that, chlorine will be removed, and Christchurch will once again have clean water with no taste or smell.


• aquifer – ground water contained in rock, gravel or sand which can be pumped up through wells
• gravel – very small pieces of rock but bigger than sand, used for making roads
• chlorine (n) – chemical Cl2, chlorinate (v)
• wake-up call – an event which makes people notice immediately, especially after they were “asleep” about a matter
• contaminated – became no longer clean, something dirty entered the water
• a bore (n) – a well
• head of a bore – the top of the bore
• once again (idiom) – back to first position, back to normal

Correction: Havelock North’s contaminated water supply happened in August 2016.

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