Stopping, reducing and limiting a supply
Decisions to stop, restrict or reduce a supply of drinking water can have serious impacts on consumers.
Such decisions may result in people drinking unsafe water and getting sick, dwellings being insanitary and subject to action by a territorial authority, or businesses having to close until a suitable alternative supply is available.
This information applies to registered drinking water supplies and any drinking water supply established after 15 November 2021.
If you’re an unregistered drinking water supplier and your supply was operating prior to 15 November 2021, the requirements set out on this page don’t currently apply to you.
However, it’s very important that you communicate with consumers before implementing any changes to a water supply.
What must I do if there is to be a change of ownership of a drinking water supply?
If your drinking water supply will operate under new ownership, you must advise Taumata Arowai and every relevant territorial authority and provide at least 30 days' notice.
Your notification must include the name and contact details of the new owner.
It’s important that Taumata Arowai and territorial authorities can easily contact people who are operating drinking water supplies.
What must I do if my ability to supply sufficient drinking water is at imminent risk?
If your ability to supply sufficient drinking water to consumers is at risk, or is likely to be at risk, you must advise the following agencies:
- Taumata Arowai, and
- Fire and Emergency New Zealand, and
- Local authorities in your area (this includes both your regional council and your city or district council).
The reason for notifying these agencies is so that we can collaborate to ensure a sufficient supply of drinking water continues for consumers.
The circumstances in which such a notification may be necessary include (but are not limited to) drought conditions and other natural disasters.
What must I do if I intend to stop, reduce, or limit a supply of drinking water?
If you’re a registered drinking water supplier, you must provide at least 30 days’ notice to Taumata Arowai and your territorial authority before you:
- stop supplying drinking water to all or some consumers
- reduce or limit the amount of water that you supply, or
- limit the number of connections to your supply.
This requirement to notify doesn’t apply if:
- The restriction or interruption is for planned maintenance. This must not exceed 8 hours unless prior approval has been obtained from Taumata Arowai, or a relevant compliance rule has been adhered to.
- The restriction or interruption is unforeseen or due to an emergency. This must not exceed 8 hours unless Taumata Arowai has been notified.
- The restriction has been imposed due to unpaid accounts or unresolved drinking water leaks. You must still supply the affected consumers a sufficient quantity of drinking water to support their ordinary drinking water needs.
If there’s a temporary restriction or reduction of your drinking water supply that exceeds 8 hours, you must:
- arrange an alternative supply of drinking water (for example, a water carrier) for your consumers
- take all practicable steps to advise affected consumers of the restriction or interruption and to keep them up to date about it.
What to consider before stopping, reducing, or limiting a supply?
Permanently stopping or reducing a supply of drinking water can have significant implications for consumers. It can also create risks to public health.
Before deciding to change your supply arrangements you should:
- Find out how to comply with the Water Services Act
The main purpose of the Water Services Act is to ensure that everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand has access to safe drinking water. When performing its functions under the Act, Taumata Arowai will take account of the scale of your supply and its complexity. Our approach will be proportionate to the level of risk associated with your supply.
For smaller supplies, we provide pragmatic solutions that you can use, to be confident that the drinking water you provide is safe. This includes Acceptable Solutions, guidance, and templates. Acceptable Solutions provide drinking water suppliers with a ready-made option to meet their compliance obligations under the Water Services Act
- Communicate with your consumers
It’s important to understand how the change of supply arrangements will impact your consumers. Some may have alternate sources of drinking water they can use. But some may not and may have real difficulty finding another supply at short notice. There may also be people in your community who can assist you with the management, upkeep and maintenance of the drinking water supply.
- Contact your local authority
Territorial authorities and regional councils will have information about the source of your water. They may be able to support you to resolve challenges about quality or quantity of water that is available for your supply. They may also be able to help you to find a solution, such as arranging for an alternative supply to all or some of your consumers.
- Notify Taumata Arowai
Remember, if you have a registered supply and intend to stop supplying drinking water to all or some of your consumers, to reduce the quantity of water you supply, or to limit connections to your supply, you must provide at least 30 days’ notice to Taumata Arowai and your territorial authority.
Thirty days is the minimum notice period. Whether your drinking water supply is registered or unregistered, we encourage you to engage with your consumers and territorial authority as early as possible to enable a good outcome for everyone.
Our role is to ensure that all parties come together to try to find a solution.