Drinking water safety planning

Assessing and managing risks across your water supply through drinking water safety planning.

What is a drinking water safety plan and when do I need to prepare one?

Drinking water safety plan

Drinking water safety planning is a risk management process that aims to ensure a safe, secure and resilient supply of drinking water to consumers. Your drinking water safety plan records the hazards and risks to your drinking water supply and how you will manage them to ensure that drinking water is safe. Your plan must:

  • be proportionate to the scale and complexity of, and the risks that relate to, the drinking water supply
  • identify any hazards that relate to the drinking water supply
  • assess any risks associated with those hazards
  • identify how those risks will be managed, controlled, or eliminated to ensure that drinking water is safe and complies with legislative requirements
  • identify how the drinking water safety plan will be reviewed on an ongoing basis, and how its implementation will be amended, if necessary, to ensure that drinking water is safe and complies with legislative requirements
  • identify how the drinking water supply will be monitored to ensure that drinking water is safe and complies with legislative requirements
  • include procedures to verify that the drinking water safety plan is working effectively
  • include a multi-barrier approach to drinking water safety that will be implemented as part of the plan
  • include a source water risk management plan if required
  • where a drinking water supply includes reticulation, require, and provide for the use of, residual disinfection in the supply unless an exemption is obtained
  • identify how a supplier will meet the supplier’s duty to ensure that a sufficient quantity of drinking water is provided to each point of supply
  • identify how a supplier will respond to events and emergencies

Source water risk management plan

A source water risk management plan is part of your drinking water safety plan, unless your drinking water supply arrangement doesn’t have a source (for example, because you are a water carrier who takes water from a separate drinking water supply rather than a water body like a river, lake or aquifer). It sets out how hazards and risks to source water will be managed.  To develop a plan, you will need to engage with local authorities to understand the risks to your water source.

A source water risk management plan must:

  • identify any hazards that relate to the source water, including emerging or potential hazards
  • assess any risks that are associated with those hazards
  • identify how those risks will be managed, controlled, monitored, or eliminated as part of a drinking water safety plan
  • have regard to any values identified by local authorities under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management that relate to a freshwater body that you use as a source of your drinking water supply.

Guidance on drinking water safety planning and source water risk management planning will be provided soon.

 

When do I need to have a plan by?

Registered suppliers

If you are a drinking water supplier who was registered under the Health Act 1956 immediately before 15 November 2021, you have one year to prepare a drinking water safety plan (including a source water risk management plan) that complies with the Act. A copy of your plan must be submitted to Taumata Arowai by 15 November 2022.  

The Water Services Act 2021 has introduced some new requirements that must be included as part of a drinking water safety plan. For example, all reticulated drinking water supplies must, unless an exemption has been granted, require and provide for the use of residual disinfection. Also, Taumata Arowai is proposing to revise the Drinking Water Standards and to introduce new Drinking Water Quality Assurance Rules. These will be consulted on from early 2022 and we anticipate they will be in place from about July 2022. Draft rules have been published. These will assist you to start your drinking water safety planning, but you won’t be able to finalise a longer-term plan until the new standards and rules are in place.

Taumata Arowai doesn’t expect to receive a copy of your existing plan that was approved under the Health Act 1956, if you have one.  We have access to records that were kept by Drinking Water Assessors. We will review new drinking water safety plans after they are lodged with us, prioritising that work in accordance with the scale, complexity and risk profile of different drinking water supplies and our own Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement Strategy (currently being developed). We don’t approve plans.

If we do receive copies of plans approved by Drinking Water Assessors under the Health Act 1956 we will file them for reference if required, but won’t review them.

Unregistered suppliers

If you are a drinking water supplier who wasn’t registered under the Health Act immediately before 15 November 2021, you won’t need to prepare a drinking water safety plan and provide a copy to Taumata Arowai until after your supply is registered. You will have up to 4 years to apply to register your supply, and up to a further 3 years after that to prepare and provide a drinking water safety plan (up to 7 years in total).

New Drinking water supplies

If you are commissioning a new drinking water supply after 15 November 2021, you must register the supply with Taumata Arowai and provide a drinking water safety plan before you start to supply drinking water to consumers.

What should I be doing now?

Anyone who supplies drinking water should have effective ways to identify and manage risks and to ensure that the drinking water is safe. This includes having a plan for how to respond in an emergency or if drinking water becomes unsafe. 

If you are a registered supplier, you have a range of duties under the Water Services Act 2021.

If you have a drinking water safety plan that was approved by a Drinking Water Assessor and that was in effect immediately before 15 November 2021, it is deemed to be a drinking water safety plan under the Water Services Act. It is important that you continue to implement that plan to ensure that you supply safe drinking water, while you start planning to prepare and lodge your new drinking water safety plan by 15 November 2022.

If you have a drinking water plan but it wasn’t approved by a Drinking Water Assessor, you should check that the plan is sufficient to ensure that the drinking water you supply is safe.