Illicit drugs detected in New Zealand’s wastewater in the last few months would have generated almost $500 million of criminal profit over a year.
And on average Kiwis use $8.9 million worth of drugs each week.
Police have released the results of the national wastewater testing programme for the third quarter of 2019, which reveal more insight into the drug habits of New Zealanders.
Described by scientists as “one large urine test”, the wastewater testing started with three sites in 2016 – Whangarei, Auckland’s North Shore and Christchurch – but was rolled out nationwide last November.
The ESR testing at 38 sites now captures 80 per cent of the population.
Drugs tested for include methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, MDMA and fentanyl.
Police say the key finding of testing between May and July is that the average weekly use of detected drugs had an estimated street value of $8.9 million.
This is estimated to generate approximately $464 million of criminal profit annually.
Methamphetamine remains the most commonly detected illicit drug nationwide, with approximately 15kg consumed on average each week.
Detected average methamphetamine use translates to an estimated $19 million per week in social harm.