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New era in safer drinking water


15 Nov 2021

15 November 2021

Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe says the new water services regulator, Taumata Arowai, will play a crucial role in ensuring all New Zealanders have access to safe drinking water.

The new Crown entity officially takes over today from the Ministry of Health as the country’s new stand-alone drinking water regulator with oversight of wastewater and stormwater to come late 2023.

“This is the beginning of a new era. Our members have known for many years that there has been a need for a more consistent regulatory approach to help improve the safety and quality of drinking water across the country.”

The establishment of Taumata Arowai follows the recommendations of the inquiry into the 2016 Havelock North contamination event in which four people died and more than five thousand became ill from drinking water contaminated with campylobacter.

“Nobody wants to see a repeat of Havelock North.”

She says that Water New Zealand is looking forward to continuing its strong relationship with the new regulator.

“We have been working with Taumata Arowai chief executive Bill Bayfield and his team for well over a year while the new organisation was in development. It is vital that there is good communication between our members and regulator and that the new rules are transparent and workable.

“We’ve had a huge response to our information webinars from members in recent months and this indicates the level of interest and thirst for knowledge about the new regulatory environment.

“We will continue to be a conduit between the sector and the regulatory authority.

“There are a lot of emerging and challenging issues that can have an impact on both drinking water quality and the environment from waste and stormwater.

“That is why a big focus for us will be continuing to support our members to give effect to Te Mana o te Wai to help protect the health and wellbeing of water.”