Plumbing leader calls for increased investment in water sanitation

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World Toilet Day often brings a smile to the face of the reader, until they realise the seriousness of the topic, and what the outcome could be if we didn’t have something that we all take for granted, the humble toilet.  

World Toilet Day on November 19, highlights the importance of water sanitation with an estimated 2.4 billion (about 1 out of 3 people) lacking access to improved sanitation facilities in 2015. In an analysis of 145 countries, it was estimated that 58% of all cases of diarrhoea were caused by unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene resulting in more than 526,000 children under the age of 5 dying from water, sanitation and hygiene-related diarrhoea in 2015 alone.

General Manager of New Zealand’s largest plumbing network, Scott Carr, believes that while New Zealand is not at risk of the more dramatic statistics, we are in danger of becoming complacent and not keeping up with the growing pressure on our water sanitation systems.  And recent articles reporting issues around defecation in public areas and national parks seem to indicate that Carr’s concerns are well-founded.  

“With a growing population and tourism market, it’s important that the organisations responsible for waste management stay at the forefront of technology and community needs to keep the environment and water quality of New Zealand pristine,” said Carr.

New Zealand’s tourism market is booming with more than 3.4 million tourists visiting the island nation in 2016.  With a population of 4.5 million people, the influx of tourists is beginning to place a strain on public infrastructure around the country – and in particular on public toilets.

With ageing infrastructure, the amount of public amenities in several of New Zealand's tourism hot spots are unable to keep up with the numbers of tourists leading to reports of defecation in public parks and overflowing septic tanks.

“Adding to the increasing number of tourists visiting, our own population growth rate of 1.9% and continuing to grow, it’s important that our Government ensures our waste management facilities and practises also grow to meet demand.  This includes addressing the skills shortage and encouraging people to take on plumbing as a trade”.

“Whilst plumbing isn’t all about waste management, it is important to take the time to appreciate the important role our plumbers play in keeping our population safe and healthy as well as the impact on our economy through industries such as tourism.”