The Ministry believes that adequate sanitary works in communities are the most effective and usually the most efficient means of managing the risks to public health associated with inadequate sewage treatment.
Sewerage is the system of pipes and treatment works to collect and safely dispose of sewage effluent. A badly-maintained sewerage system could expose the community to disease-causing pathogens (bugs) and in disaster situations, such as floods, the risk of water-borne diseases travelling through a community can increase.
The most important pieces of legislation covering standards around sewage are the Building Act 2004 (managed by local authorities), the Resource Management Act (RMA) 1991 (managed by regional councils), and the Health Act 1956. Public health units, which are run by District Health Boards, ensure that the Health Act is complied with and houses meet sanitary requirements. The treatment of sewage to the environment is controlled under the RMA.
The role of district health boards (DHBs)
DHBs are required under the NZ Public Health and Disability Act 2000 to have three advisory committees, and one of these focuses on community and public health. They also run the public health units, which administer the sanitary requirements under the Health Act.