29 July 2020
Water New Zealand says new legislation aimed at improving the safety of drinking water will transform the way water is delivered and give the new regulator a solid framework to help ensure the safety of all publicly supplied drinking water.
Chief executive Gillian Blythe says the new Water Services Bill, giving Taumata Arowai the legislative tools to regulate the sector, will have a significant impact on water suppliers around the country.
“The bill requires that all drinking water suppliers meet drinking water standards and that they have a safety plan that contains a multi barrier approach to drinking water safety.
“Currently close to 40 percent of New Zealanders receive water that does not comply with current drinking water standards or has unknown water quality.
“Far-reaching changes are needed to ensure New Zealand has the regulations and operational practices in place to reduce the risks of another Havelock North contamination event from occurring.
“The new legislation also sets out competency requirements and process to ensure that staff meet professional skills or qualification requirements.”
She says Water New Zealand has already been working with the sector to develop a competency framework and ongoing professional development to ensure a fit-for-purpose workforce.
“There is a skills shortage in the water sector and the new environment will mean increased opportunities for water professionals.”
She says Water New Zealand, on behalf of its members, will be looking at the legislation in detail over the coming weeks and will be making submissions and representations to the Government.
“We will ensure our members have the opportunity to take part in discussions and we will be listening closely to their feedback.
“Already we have a full day Taumata Arowai workshop planned to coincide with our annual conference in Hamilton in September.This will provide an opportunity for members to talk directly to the new regulator.”