Wastewater testing for drugs to commence in Auckland and Christchurch

Wastewater testing for drugs to commence in Auckland and Christchurch

National News

New testing of wastewater in Christchurch and Auckland’s Rosedale treatment plant will give Police a better picture of the prevalence of drug use in the community.

Analysis of wastewater will start this week and the results will provide accurate information about illicit drug use in both Auckland and Christchurch.

“Accurate information on drug use is essential if associated harms are to be addressed effectively. The testing is not traceable to individuals and will not result in criminal charges against residents for illegal drug use,”said Assistant Commissioner Bill Searle.

The results from this sort of testing, which has not been conducted by government agencies in New Zealand before, will improve Police’s understanding of drug use in the population. They will also inform treatment and enforcement strategies, allow comparison with international data, measure the effectiveness of education and enforcement and provide intelligence data.

“International studies of wastewater have shown distinct temporal and geographic patterns of drug use. Perth has done wastewater analysis testing, and announced earlier this year that 31.6 kg of methamphetamine was consumed in the city area per week. That’s 1.6 tonnes a year. Perth can also measure things like peak days for use and the effects big seizures have on their usage rates,” said Mr Searle.

The testing will be undertaken by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR). The drugs that will be tested for are methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, alpha PVP, MDMA and Creatinine (used as the control). Sampling will be conducted at treatment plants in Auckland and Christchurch for one week (7 days) each month for a year.

ESR scientist Andrew Chappell says “this is an exciting new area of research that we are proud to work together with the Police on”.

Wastewater testing and analysis is a means of quick and accurate assessment of prevalence of drug use in a community.

ENDS

Issued by Police Media Centre