The Annual Report on Drinking-water Quality 2014–15 describes drinking-water quality for all registered networked drinking-water supplies that served populations of more than 100 people from 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015.
This report describes the drinking-water quality of all registered networked drinking-water supplies that served populations of more than 100 people. It describes how these supplies met the requirements of the Drinking-Water Standards for New Zealand and their progress towards meeting the requirements of the Health Act 1956 between 1July 2014 to 30 June 2015.
The report shows that, for registered drinking-water supplies that served population of more than 100 people:
- 3,666,000 people (96.8 percent) received drinking-water that met the bacterial standards, which is the most important criteria
- 3,030,000 people (80.0 percent) received drinking-water which met the protozoal standards
- 3,737,000 people (98.7 percent) received drinking-water which met the chemical standards
- 3,599,000 people (95.0 percent) received drinking-water from supplies that had a water safety plan implemented
3,008,000 people (79.4 percent) received drinking-water which met all the requirements of the standards.
Questions and answers about drinking-water
Is my drinking-water safe?
During 2014/15, over 3.0 million New Zealanders on networked supplies serving over 100 people were provided with drinking-water that met all the bacterial, protozoal and chemical requirements of the Drinking-water Standards for New Zealand (the Standards) and, therefore, was demonstrably safe.
In 1995, the Ministry of Health set a target of 95 percent compliance with bacterial and chemical Standards by drinking-water supplies serving over 500 people. During 2014/15, bacterial compliance was achieved for 96.8 percent of the population and chemical compliance for 98.7 percent of the population. Achievement against the protozoal Standards remains around 80 percent.
Remedial actions need to be taken by suppliers in the event that monitoring reveals contamination of the water and if the Standards are breached. Prompt action is required when the contaminants are microbial, as pathogens can rapidly cause illness. Almost all water suppliers undertook immediate remedial action in response to transgressions of the Standards. Water supplies that did not comply due to inadequate monitoring (a technical non-compliance) were not necessarily unsafe, but monitoring is important to be sure water is safe. Likewise, for those supplies that have not met protozoal compliance because adequate barriers are not yet in place to ensure the drinking-water is free of protozoa, the risk is also unknown.
Water safety plans are developed and implemented by drinking-water suppliers to identify what risks may exist for a water supply and how to manage these risks – or what action to take if something goes wrong. During the 2014/15 reporting period, 3.6 million people received water from supplies that had an approved water safety plan. A drinking-water supplier is deemed to be taking all practicable steps to comply with the Standards if the supplier is implementing the provisions of the Standards in their approved water safety plan.
What is the Annual Report on Drinking-Water Quality in New Zealand 2014/15?
The report describes drinking-water quality, and progress towards meeting the requirements of the Health Act 1956 and the Drinking-Water Standards for New Zealand, for all registered networked drinking-water supplies that served populations of more than 100 people from 01 July 2014 to 30 June 2015 (covering approximately 3.8 million people).
Why is the report on the Annual Review of Drinking-Water Quality being published?
The Annual Report on Drinking-Water Quality in New Zealand 2014/15 is the latest in a series of annual reports that were first published in 1994. Publishing the report each year fulfils a statutory requirement of the Ministry of Health.
The report includes information on measures other than the Standards. Why has this information been included?
The Health Act 1956 (as amended in 2007) describes a number of duties for water suppliers, including taking all practicable steps to comply with the Standards. The Act requires information on water suppliers’ compliance with their duties to be included in the report.
What steps are being taken to raise overall compliance with the Standards?
Failure to meet microbiological Standards leads to the potential for outbreaks of disease. The following initiatives are being implemented to ensure New Zealand’s drinking-water remains safe:
- external surveillance of drinking-water supplies by drinking-water assessors and health protection officers from local DHB public health units
- publication of a Register of Drinking-Water Suppliers
- publication of a Register of Ministry of Health Recognised Laboratories for drinking-water compliance tests
- publication of a Register of Water Carriers
- maintenance of a national drinking-water quality information database
- publication of Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality Management in New Zealand
- publication of Drinking-water Standards for New Zealand 2005 (Revised 2008)
- water suppliers are progressively required to prepare water safety plans and to take “all practicable steps” to comply with the Standards.
How does compliance with the Standards compare with last year?
During the reporting period over 3.0 million New Zealanders on reticulated supplies serving over 100 people were provided with drinking-water that met all the bacterial, protozoal and chemical Standards. In terms of population served, this was an increase of 0.5 percent from 2013/14. Achievement of the bacterial Standards was at 96.8 percent (down from 97.2 percent) and achievement of the chemical Standards was at 98.7 percent (up from 97.4 percent) and so continue to exceed the Ministry of Health’s target of 95 percent. Around 80 percent met the protozoal standards.
How many people live in zones that were non-compliant due to lack of monitoring rather than poor water?
Around 1.5 percent (57,000 people) of the report population was served by supplies in which Escherichia coli was inadequately monitored (this is a bacteria that provides an indication of contamination of the water supply). Monitoring is important for determining whether supplies meet appropriate Standards.