Te Pire Ratonga Wai,
The Water Services Bill

An overview of the Water Services Bill and what it may mean for you.

Taumata Arowai is developing services according to the Water Services Bill as currently drafted. We're anticipating making changes to reflect the final Act.

The Water Services Bill as currently drafted

Water Services Bill – submissions closed 2 March 2021.

  • Introduced into Parliament in July 2020, the Bill:
    • was informed by consultation with targeted engagement with iwi and Māori, Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ), Kāhui Wai Māori and a technical advisory group
    • sets out the regulatory framework that Taumata Arowai will administer.
  • If passed, the Act will:
    • significantly extend and strengthen the drinking water regulatory framework
    • provide oversight and national-level reporting functions for wastewater and stormwater – ‘shine a light’ on the system. Regional councils will continue to be the regulator of wastewater and stormwater
    • incorporate requirements relating to Te Mana o te Wai.
  • Taumata Arowai:

Main features of the Bill

  • At all times drinking water suppliers have a primary duty to supply safe drinking water.
  • Transition arrangements as the Water Services Bill is currently written, mean that currently un-registered drinking water suppliers will have four years to register and seven years to meet the requirements of the Act. Currently registered suppliers will continue to be registered and will have a year to review their drinking water safety plan or show compliance with an acceptable solution.
  • All people with functions and duties under the legislation must give effect to Te Mana o te Wai.
  • The legislation is being implemented according to scale, complexity and risk – not a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
  • The regulatory framework is consistent with international best practice.
  • There is a strong focus on capability – new authorisation and occupational regulation requirements will be established through secondary legislation. Local authorities are required to meet authorisation requirements within five years. We haven't developed this authorising framework yet and we'll provide more information when it's available.

About drinking water safety plans

A drinking water safety plan records a risk-based assessment and management process that aims to make sure there is a safe and secure supply of drinking water for consumers.

  • Under the Bill, Taumata Arowai will not be responsible for approving drinking water safety plans. Instead, suppliers will be expected to update their plans so they remain current and manage the risks associated with a water supply.
  • Taumata Arowai will however review drinking water safety plans against legislative requirements and monitor compliance.
  • A drinking water supplier is best placed to manage the risks associated with a water supply.
  • Taumata Arowai will follow-up with suppliers if a plan is incomplete, unclear or appears to fall short of complying with requirements.
  • Revised plans to be forwarded to Taumata Arowai whenever material changes are made.

Proposed changes by the Health Select Committee

In response to submissions raised by small suppliers, the following changes to the Water Services Bill have been proposed in the Health Select Committee final report. These will effect the way acceptable solutions can be applied. 

  • Small suppliers can use end-point treatment devices such as UV filters as a simple, cost-effective way to provide safe drinking water that meets the standards. This means drinking water that is used for stock or agriculture does not have to meet the drinking water standards.  
  • Where a supplier chooses to comply with an acceptable solution, they do not need to have a drinking water safety plan or a source water risk management plan.  
  • If a supplier continues to meet the requirements of an acceptable solution they are deemed to have complied with their duties under the Bill.  
  • Consumer complaints processes will not apply to very small supplies. These processes will apply to publicly owned supplies.  
  • It is our intention that tradespeople such as plumbers and electricians will be authorised to carry out installation, maintenance, and compliance work such as installing and testing end-point treatment devices to comply with an acceptable solution.    
  • Once the Bill is enacted, Taumata Arowai must engage in public consultation before making an acceptable solution.   
  • Unregistered suppliers will have four years (until late 2025) before they need to register with Taumata Arowai, and seven years (until late 2027) until they need to comply with the legislation.