Safer drinking water key issue for New Zealanders

24 June 2021

Water New Zealand says events such as the Havelock North contamination crisis and the frequent number of boil water notices in some parts of the country have led to drinking water becoming identified as our number one infrastructure issue.

Chief executive Gillian Blythe says the finding in the Aotearoa 2050 report by Te Waihanga, Infrastructure Commission, reflects a growing awareness of the long term under-investment in water infrastructure.

“When people become aware of drinking water contamination events and they see sewage spilling into the streets and onto our beaches, it becomes very obvious that investment in water infrastructure has been overlooked for too long.”

The report found that four out of five New Zealanders want to see an increased investment in water networks to solve current issues.

However, estimates from the Government have shown the scale of the challenge ahead -$120b to $185b over the next 30 years.

“We need to tackle this in the most efficient, fair and resilient way. Ensuring safe access to drinking water and protecting our environment is a vitally important national conversation.”

This latest report comes on the back of the Ministry of Health’s Annual Report on Drinking-water Quality 2019-20 which shows that while overall compliance with drinking water standards for public drinking water suppliers improved slightly in the past year, there’s been a decline in compliance levels amongst utilities supplying populations of between 501 and 10,000 people.

“The findings also showed that 17 percent of New Zealanders who received publicly supplied water were provided with water that did not fully meet the drinking water standards.

“What is also concerning is that five percent of people were supplied with drinking water last year that did not meet bacterial standards.  This means that the water had become contaminated with e-coli from either human or animal waste.

“While there are some positive trends in the latest data, these findings point to a continued decline in drinking water quality in some parts of New Zealand."

Drinking Water Water Quality