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Taumata Arowai Seeks Feedback On New Drinking Water Guidance

The new water services regulator for Aotearoa New Zealand, Taumata Arowai, is consulting on proposed new Drinking Water Standards, Quality Assurance Rules, Aesthetic Values, Acceptable Solutions for Roof Water Supplies, Spring and Bore Water Supplies and Rural Agricultural Water Supplies, and Network Environmental Performance Measures.

These documents will guide the way drinking water is supplied to people across the country and help to ensure it is safe. 
Taumata Arowai began its role as the regulator on 15 November 2021, replacing the previous drinking water regulator, the Ministry of Health, under the Water Services Act 2021.

The new Crown entity has functions in relation to drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater. However, it will begin by focusing on regulating drinking water services to help ensure safe and sufficient drinking water across Aotearoa.

Chief Executive Bill Bayfield said that this includes acting when a drinking water supplier fails to meet its duties, particularly where drinking water poses a serious risk to public health. 

“Everyone in Aotearoa should have reliable access to safe drinking water every day – no matter where they live. This is not the case currently,” said Mr. Bayfield.

“For drinking water suppliers, we are keeping our messages simple. You have a duty to ensure the drinking water you provide is safe,” said Mr. Bayfield. 

Mr. Bayfield said that the new drinking water regulator will take a phased approach, with focus in the first year on transitioning those suppliers previously registered with the Ministry of Health. 

“This means that Taumata Arowai deals first with the registration and regulation of the country’s most complex water supply arrangements and those supplies that represent the greatest risk. Most of these are currently managed by local bodies.” 

Under the new legislation, previously unregistered suppliers will have up to four years to register their supply (November 2025), and up to seven years to comply with the new standards and rules (November 2028). New drinking water suppliers who start operating after 15November 2021 must comply with the Water Services Act 2021 from the outset. 

“We are going to approach this in a pragmatic way based on the scale, complexity, and risk of different water supplies. It is important though, to remember that as the regulator, we will be expected to hold suppliers accountable when they fail to meet their legal duties to their communities,” said Mr. Bayfield. 

The proposed documents included in this consultation relate to the regulatory role of Taumata Arowai under the Water Services Act 2021. They are targeted at drinking water suppliers and contain technical content that will guide thewaydrinkingwateris supplied safely topeople in Aotearoa.

Mr. Bayfield said that the documents have been developed in collaboration with sector reference groups from various drinking water supply types and representative groups from across Aotearoa, along with international experts.

“We want to make sure that the regulatory framework is fit for purpose for the diverse needs of various water suppliers. Your views are important to us, and we encourage you to have your say,” said Mr. Bayfield. 

Consultation begins today and runs until 28 March. Feedback will be used to further refine the proposed new Drinking Water Standards, Quality Assurance Rules, Aesthetic Values, Acceptable Solutions for Roof Water Supplies, Spring and Bore Water Supplies and Rural Agricultural Water Supplies, and Network Environmental Performance Measures, before these are finalised and implemented later in 2022.

The consultation documents and submission forms are available on our website: www.te-puna-korero.taumataarowai.govt.nz


Taumata Arowaiis a Crown entity established under theTaumata Arowai–the Water Services Regulator Act 2020. 

The establishment of Taumata Arowai as an independent regulator for drinking water andnew legislation in the form of the Water Services Act 2021(replacing Part 2A of the Health Act 1956) are integral parts of the Government’s Three Waters Reform programme.

Taumata Arowai is not part of the Three Waters Reform programme looking to create new publicly owned water entities. Our role is to regulate rather than determine future changes to the delivery of water services.

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