Taumata Arowai grants 686 DOC sites an exemption from drinking water rules

25 June 2024

Taumata Arowai has granted a general exemption from drinking water rules for 686 Department of Conservation backcountry huts and campsites.

This is the third exemption Taumata Arowai has granted.

Taumata Arowai Head of Systems, Strategy and Performance Sara McFall says this exemption takes a reasonable, pragmatic approach.

“Exemptions are designed for circumstances where meeting legislative requirements would be unreasonable or impractical, but a drinking water supplier can still show how they will ensure people consume safe drinking water.

“For the 686 remote DOC sites this exemption applies to, it’s not practical to operate a water treatment system and carry out the required regular testing of the water quality.”

The DOC huts and campsites covered by this exemption are basic backcountry facilities with no power supply and no permanent staff. The drinking water in these locations is usually rainwater collected from roofs and held in tanks, or it is collected from nearby waterways.

“Both Taumata Arowai and DOC want to ensure people using these facilities drink safe water. So, this exemption comes with conditions that must be met. For example, these facilities must display clear signage advising people to boil water before drinking it,” says Dr McFall. “In many cases, this signage is already in place and people are used to having to boil their water.”

The Department of Conservation is pleased to have been granted this exemption.

“We place high importance on having appropriate measures at our huts, campsites and other DOC buildings that ensure people know what to do, if required, to make the water safe to drink. This is managed by having on-site signage to boil water and our website information for huts and campsites includes whether the water there is treated, or is untreated and must be boiled,” says CJ Juby, DOC Business Services Director.  

“DOC will continue to work with Taumata Arowai to determine what is appropriate for another 73 DOC water supplies to meet drinking water requirements. “


Media contact

Email: media@taumataarowai.govt.nz

Mobile: 021 227 5164

Notes to editors

Exemption information

Exemptions by the numbers

Taumata Arowai has received 23 exemption applications. Of these:

  • 3 applications have been assessed and an exemption granted
  • 14 applications were withdrawn by the applicant
  • 1 application is currently in progress
  • 5 applications have been assessed and declined.

Boiling water to make it safe to drink

Boiling water is the most effective way to disinfect water, as it will kill all disease-causing bugs.

Use boiled water for drinking, preparing food, cooking, making up infant formula, handwashing, and cleaning your teeth.

How long to boil water

Bring the water to a rolling boil (where bubbles appear in the centre and do not disappear when the water is stirred) for one minute.

Store cooled boiled water in a clean container with a lid. 

Boiled water is best used within 24 hours and can be boiled again to be sure it is safe. 

More information on boiling water is available on the Taumata Arowai website: taumataarowai.govt.nz/treating-water