New water services bill for safe drinking water

The Government has introduced legislation to Parliament that will transform drinking water safety in New Zealand and improve environmental outcomes for our wastewater and stormwater networks.

The Havelock North drinking water contamination event in 2016 drew the nation’s attention to the gravity of the problems facing drinking water in Aotearoa. Around 5000 people became ill, with up to four deaths associated with this event.

The economic costs have been estimated at $21 million.

This Bill comprises a significant part of the Government’s response to the inquiry report and is modeled on the core fundamental principles of drinking water safety as identified by the Inquiry.

These include:

  • A high standard of care must be embraced in relation to drinking water
  • The protection of source water is of paramount importance;
  • Multiple barriers against contamination of drinking water must be maintained;
  • Water contamination is almost always preceded by some kind of change and these changes must never be ignored;
  • Suppliers must guarantee the safety of drinking water; and
  • A preventative risk management approach must be applied in relation to drinking water.

“The Bill will go through a select committee process with time for public submissions to be heard however that is likely to be after September. At this stage the local government sector, water stakeholders and iwi/Māori will have ample opportunity to consider the detail of the Bill in the meantime. I look forward to hearing their views during the process,” says Nanaia Mahuta.