A new study from WSP and University of Otago has found that if nitrate concentrations in groundwater increase beyond current levels, Christchurch City and Waimakariri Districts could see more cases of colorectal cancer and premature births. The health treatment costs alone would run into the tens of millions of dollars. Treating the water to remove nitrate would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Much of the Waimakariri District is a major recharge area for Christchurch’s aquifers.