The Ministry of Health has published its Annual Report on Drinking-water Quality 2018-19 showing that thousands more New Zealanders have better drinking-water than the previous year.
The report’s findings highlight the impact of Government reforms to improve New Zealand’s drinking water safety and quality, along with changes introduced by the Ministry.
The report covers supplies that serve populations of more than 100 people, providing drinking-water to 4,077,0000 people across New Zealand.
Supplies that met all standards for drinking water quality increased to 76.2 per cent of the report population (3,107,000 people), which was up 3.6 per cent compared to the previous year. Water supplies that did not meet the drinking water standards was largely due to two large suppliers who had their secure bore water status withheld after the Havelock North Inquiry. Both water suppliers are actively working on new drinking water safety plans to address non-compliance.
Supplies that complied with their duties under the Health Act 1956, such as having water safety plans, monitoring drinking water and protecting drinking water sources, had increased 5.9 per cent from the previous year to 97.1 per cent (3,960,000 people).
The revised Drinking-water Standards for New Zealand came into force on 1 March last year, part way through the July 2018 to June 2019 reporting period, so were partly included in the annual report for the first time.
Amendments to drinking water requirements under the 1956 Health Act, which includes tighter monitoring of water quality, came into force on 1 August 2019, after the reporting period ended. Therefore, those changes will be covered in next year’s report.
Legislation is progressing for other reforms, including establishing a new water services regulator, Taumata Arowai, which will administer and enforce a new drinking water regulatory system. The Ministry of Health is working closely with the Department of Internal Affairs to ensure a smooth transition of the system to Taumata Arowai.