We all want to know we’re drinking safe water when we turn on the tap.

Who looks after your water?

A number of organisations help to keep drinking-water safe in New Zealand communities.

Water suppliers

Most people are on a water supply owned by their territorial local authority (TLA) – like a district or city council. There are also a number of smaller water suppliers, and some people manage their own household water supply.

The water supplier:

  • extracts the source water
  • runs the treatment plant to remove risks or contaminants where needed
  • pipes the water to your house.

The Drinking-water Register for New Zealand provides information about drinking-water suppliers and the types of supplies they manage. It is managed by ESR (the Institute of Environmental Science and Research) on behalf of the Ministry of Health.

Public health units

Your local public health unit is part of your district health board. They assess the TLAs in your area and ensure they maintain appropriate water quality.

Public health units investigate any outbreak of a notifiable infectious disease, which includes a waterborne diseases like campylobacter.

Who is responsible when?

Regional councils are responsible for the management of source catchments (under the Resource Management Act), while water suppliers are responsible for the water supply from the point of abstraction to the property (under the Health Act).

Checking your water supplier’s performance

The Ministry publishes the Annual Report on Drinking-water Quality, which describes drinking-water quality for all registered networked drinking-water supplies that served populations of more than 100 people.

The report 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.

During 2014/15, over 3 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 and, therefore, was demonstrably safe. 

Drinking-water supplies serving over 500 people have a target of 95% compliance with bacterial and chemical standards. During 2014/15, bacterial compliance was achieved for 96.8% of the population and chemical compliance for 98.7% of the population. Achievement against the protozoal standards remains around 80%.

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