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 new 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 so that everyone in Aotearoa has reliable access to safe drinking water, including rural and remote communities.

We are one of three pillars of the Three Waters reform programme (the other two are regulatory and service delivery reform).

Watch this video to learn more about where we’ve come from (our whakapapa) and why we’ve been established.

If you’re a drinking water supplier, here is a helpful video that explains what you need to know and key timeframes.

Unregistered suppliers have time

If your drinking water supply is unregistered, you have time to find out more and to get the advice or support you need.

Owners of unregistered supplies have up to November 2025 to register them with Taumata Arowai, and then up to November 2028 to fully comply with the Water Services Act.

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

And with local teams across the motu, we’re looking forward to working with you to help you satisfy your responsibility of ensuring the people and communities you serve have safe and reliable drinking water.

Am I a drinking water supplier?

If you own or operate a water supply that provides drinking water to more than one household, then 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, or supplies serving marae, papakāinga, rural schools or community halls, or multiple dwellings such as farmhouses or baches that share a bore or water source.

If your house or dwelling has its own domestic drinking water supply, then 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 two dwellings that each have their own separate water supply (e.g. one from a bore and one from roof water collection)

The Water Services Act 2021 is concerned with water used for human consumption and other related purposes (e.g., 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, relax. There is time. You can watch this video for more information.

If you own a drinking water supply that was operating before 15 November 2021 but was not registered with the Ministry of Health you have until November 2025 to register with Taumata Arowai. Full compliance with the Water Services Act is not required until November 2028.

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 the quality of your water and you can start to plan what you might need to do to make sure your water continues to be safe.

Will there be different compliance options for small and rural supplies?

We recognise that every drinking water supply is unique, especially small and rural ones. We’re looking at a number of compliance options for smaller supplies that are intended to minimise the regulatory burden. These solutions are still being developed.

The Water Services Act 2021 recognises that drinking water supplies are unique. It’s our challenge to enable fit-for-purpose solutions that are proportionate to the scale, complexity, and risk profile of different supplies.

We have a lot to learn about the diverse types and needs of suppliers, especially rural and remote ones. This will take time. We ask for your patience as we work on this.

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, which set the Maximum Acceptable Values (MAVs) for a range of substances which can affect the safety and quality of drinking water. 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 tastes and smells acceptable, by following the Drinking Water Aesthetic Values.

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

Smaller suppliers will be able to choose from a range of compliance pathways (including Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods), selecting the option that best suits their circumstances. Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods are intended to provide simpler options for certain supply types and they are still under development. We recognise that these options need to be both pragmatic 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 motu (country) which result in poor health outcomes, especially for the elderly, children and immune compromised. One 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.

The decision was made to include small, rural and private water supplies in the Water Services Act because the intention is to not leave anyone behind. The aim is to lift the standard of drinking water quality across the board. It’s not about making new rules for the sake of it. It’s about raising awareness of the issues and providing support so that everyone can turn on the tap and trust that what comes out is safe to drink.

Watch this video to learn more about where we’ve come from (our whakapapa) and why we’ve been established.