Independent regulator to make drinking water safe

The Government will create a standalone Crown entity to regulate drinking water in New Zealand.

This decision by Cabinet signals the Government’s determination that the new regulator responsible for ensuring supplies of safe, clean drinking water for all New Zealand households and communities should operate with a high level of independence.

“This step-change in establishing an independent regulator is an approach that drives best practice in other international jurisdictions facing similar challenges of providing reliable drinking water and planning for growth and urban development,’’ said Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta who is leading the cross-agency Three Waters Review.

“New Zealanders have every right to expect clean, safe drinking water. Unfortunately, over many years, our regulatory regime has not kept pace with international best practice. In addition, enforcement of the existing regulations has become fractured and increasingly ineffective,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

Minister of Health Dr David Clark said the previous Government allowed a permissive approach to drinking water regulation to develop.

“The campylobacter outbreak from contaminated public water supplies in Havelock North three years ago was a tragedy. It made more than 5000 people sick, killed up to four people and left others with long-term complications.

Read the relevant Cabinet paper and associated documents