He kaiwhakarato wai ahau?,
Am I a water supplier?

If you own or operate an unregistered drinking water supply, then here’s what you need to know.

Kia ora, we’re Taumata Arowai – the water services regulator for Aotearoa New Zealand.

We've been established to help improve the performance of the water services sector and to administer the Water Services Act 2021. This is to make sure everyone in Aotearoa has access to safe and sufficient drinking water, including rural and remote communities. 

Am I a drinking water supplier?

If you own or operate a water supply that provides drinking water to more than 1 household, you are considered a drinking water supplier under the Water Services Act 2021. 

All drinking water suppliers have a duty of care to provide safe drinking water to the communities or people who rely on their supplies. 

Examples of supplies that are often ‘unregistered’ are: 

  • smaller community water schemes 
  • supplies serving marae, papakāinga, rural schools, or community halls 
  • multiple dwellings such as farmhouses or baches that share a bore or water source. 

If your house or dwelling has its own drinking water supply, the Water Services Act 2021 doesn’t apply to you. You’re not required to test or monitor your supply but of course, you should ensure that your water is safe to drink. 

For example, you are not considered a drinking water supplier if you own or operate: 

  • a rental property with a rainwater tank supplying a single house 
  • a holiday house with its own rainwater tank rented to tourists on a short-term basis 
  • a water supply that is only used for stock or irrigation 
  • a property with 2 dwellings that each have their own separate water supply (eg 1 from a bore and 1 from roof water collection). 

The Water Services Act 2021 is concerned with water used for human consumption and other related purposes like oral hygiene, preparing food and drink, or washing utensils. Water that isn’t used for these purposes is not ‘drinking water’ and is not subject to the Act. Bottled water regulated under the Food Act 2014 is also excluded. 

What do I do if I'm a water supplier?

At this stage, you have time to find out more and get the advice and support you need. Watch this video for more information. 

If you own a drinking water supply operating before 15 November 2021 not registered with the Ministry of Health, you have until November 2025 to register with Taumata Arowai. You then have until November 2028 to fully comply with the Water Services Act. 

These timeframes allow us to work with you to understand your needs. As a water supplier, you know your supply best and you’re best placed to understand and manage the risks. 

In the meantime, you have a duty of care to make sure the water you provide is safe. If you are unsure, consider arranging a water quality test. This will give you information about your water quality. You can then start to plan what you might need to do to make sure your water continues to be safe. 

Will there be different options for small and rural supplies?

We recognise that every drinking water supply is unique, especially small and rural suppliers. We have a number of compliance options for smaller supplies that are intended to minimise the regulatory burden, including Acceptable Solutions. Find out more about options for small suppliers. 

What will I need to comply with?

Once you register as a drinking water supplier, you’ll need to make sure your water meets the Drinking Water Standards. These standards set the Maximum Acceptable Values (MAVs) for a range of substances which can affect drinking water quality and safety. They are based on guideline values set by the World Health Organisation, with some adjustments for Aotearoa New Zealand circumstances. 

You’ll need to make sure the water you supply looks, tastes and smells acceptable, by following the Drinking Water Aesthetic Values. 

The Drinking Water Quality Assurance Rules will tell drinking water suppliers what to do to comply with the Drinking Water Standards and other requirements under the Act. The Rules match the scale, complexity, and risk profile of each supply. The simpler the supply, the simpler the rules. 

Smaller suppliers can choose from a range of optionsincluding Acceptable Solutions. They can select the option that best suits their circumstances. Acceptable Solutions and are intended to provide a straightforward option for certain supply types. We recognise that options need to be practical and affordable.   

Why are these changes happening?

Taumata Arowai was formed as the result of a review that identified systematic failures of drinking water services around the country. These failures result in poor health outcomes, especially for the elderly, children and immune compromised. An estimate suggests 34,000 cases of waterborne illness every year result from the consumption of poor drinking water. This includes people in remote and rural areas. 

Small, rural, and private water supplies are included in the Water Services Actso we can lift the standard of drinking water quality across the country. It’s not about making new rules for the sake of it. It’s about providing information on the issues and support so that everyone can turn on the tap and trust that what comes out is safe to drink.