Almost one-third of Manawatu¯ ’s drinking water supply needs immediate work to fix potential risks to public health, an independent report has found.

Fix the leaks and avoid water shortages over summer

Surprise, surprise. Fixing leaks will significantly reduce the risk of the region running out of water this summer.

The Wellington Water Committee, which meets on Friday, will table a report spelling out how the threat of an acute water shortage can be mitigated.

The two key measures are reducing the number of leaks and increasing storage capacity. The region is currently losing 44% of its drinking water to leaks.

Read more

Freshwater management: Auditor-General stresses value of close ties between regional councils, Māori

Building meaningful and enduring relationships between iwi, hapū and regional councils is important to supporting better freshwater management, according to a new report by the auditor-general.

The report looks at progress on recommendations made in 2019 by the auditor-general and considers how well four regional councils - Waikato, Taranaki, Horizons and Environment Southland - work with Māori in their regions to manage freshwater quality.

Read more

LGNZ to launch city and regional deals plan

Local Government New Zealand is expected to put forward its proposal for city and regional deals on Tuesday, in the hope of getting one step closer towards resetting the relationship between central and local government.

LGNZ will be asking for deals that go beyond infrastructure and projects, to ensure there is a focus on the relationship between local and central government.

Read more

Wellingtonians save 175 Olympic swimming pools of water

Wellingtonians have saved the equivalent of 175 Olympic swimming pools over summer.

In a statement thanking Wellingtonians, chief executive Tonia Haskell described the amount saved as “staggering” noting that more than 400 million litres had been saved.

Read more

Saving money, creating jobs and more importantly: saving water

With a quarter of the Horowhenua District Council’s water supply being lost to leaks, the council is hailing its installation of digital smart water meters as a success.

In the past two months since it began installing these ‘leak detectors’ 65 properties with leaking pipes have been identified.

“Once these leaks alone are repaired, this will save our district up to 85,000 litres of water a day (equivalent to 3.5 swimming pools full of water each day),” a spokesperson said.

Read more

Where's New Zealand's best tasting tap water?

Eighteen samples of water from across the country were served to a panel of judges yesterday to find New Zealand's best tasting tap water — and a new champion's been crowned.

Rotorua Lakes Council took the top spot, winning the 2024 National Water Taste Test competition.

For the first time, the competition then expanded to a Trans-Tasman battle, with the New Zealand champion competing against Australia's top drop: A refreshing glass from Tasmania.

Read more

New wastewater measures we require you to monitor and report on

One of our key roles at Taumata Arowai is to monitor and report on the environmental performance of public drinking water, wastewater and stormwater networks. This helps provide greater transparency on the performance of these networks and their impacts on the environment.

The Water Services Act 2021 requires certain network operators to monitor and report on the environmental performance of their networks. This includes networks operated by, or on behalf of, councils, council-controlled organisations, government departments, and the New Zealand Defence Force.

Read more

Hazard-prone development likely under fast-track law, insurers and engineers warn

Proposed fast-track laws could perpetuate inappropriate developments in natural hazard zones that put people and property in harm's way, insurers, local authorities and river engineers have warned.

The Insurance Council is among submitters warning that the Fast-track Approvals Bill does not currently do enough to prevent housing and infrastructure from being developed on land vulnerable to climate change risks.

A Hawke's Bay local government committee, still reeling from the effects of Cyclone Gabrielle, said the bill would undermine their coastal hazard planning and allow the types of risky developments that councils are desperate to stop.

Read more

Free water tanks build resilience for remote Northland rural communities

Almost 100 free water tanks have changed lives and built drought resilience for vulnerable, isolated rural communities in Northland.

The new tanks have been installed in response to the region’s 2019-20 drought, which exposed significant water poverty across Te Tai Tōkerau in vulnerable rural communities without access to public water supply. This resulted in the New Zealand Army being brought in to deliver water to communities without town water supply.

Read more

National water regulator keeps close eye on capital water woes

The country's water services regulator says Wellington Water's actions over the next eight months will be critical to ensure the capital has enough drinking water.

But Taumata Arowai head of regulatory Steve Taylor says the Wellington metropolitan area may still face water restrictions next summer.

"We all share the same goal: ensuring the community has enough water to meet households' basic needs and that public health is not put at risk. It's essential that appropriate, incremental actions are taken over the next six to eight months to support this."

Read more

Selwyn council to spend $5m on hunt for nitrate-free drinking water

The Selwyn District Council has allocated $5 million to investigate new wells after high nitrate levels were found in drinking water supplies in several towns including Rolleston and Darfield.

A long-term solution to move away from nitrate-contaminated water supplies could cost more than $400m.

Read more

Another Havelock North? Govt undoing protections for drinking water safety

After the world’s largest recorded campylobacteriosis outbreak occurred in Havelock North in 2016, the National-led Government established a formal inquiry into what went wrong and lessons for the future. This led to policy changes to strengthen the protection of source water and improve the country’s drinking water supply system. 

These changes included introducing Te Mana o te Wai, the central decision-making framework in the country’s national freshwater policy.

Read more

Aucklanders’ Watercare bills to rise by 7.2 per cent, not 25.8 per cent, after Government strikes deal with council

A 25.8 per cent water rates increase that was projected to hit Aucklanders later this year has been avoided after an agreement was struck between the Government and Auckland Council.

Aucklanders will see an increase of 7.2 per cent to water rates under a new model for Watercare that will be legislated for in a new bill introduced by Local Government Minister Simeon Brown.

Read more

Britain to ban plastic wet wipes in world first after Mail campaign

Britain is to ban the billions of toxic plastic wet wipes which clog sewers, blight the environment and threaten health, in a world first.

The wipes, which are often flushed down toilets, go on to break down into microplastics and contaminate water supplies.

It is known that these particles can then harm insects, ecosystems and even threaten human health.

Read more

"Life-long generational assets"

Water New Zealand CEO Gillian Blythe tells Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking that the challenge for deals such as that recently agreed between Watercare and Auckland City Council comes down to balancing local accountability with affordability, and recognising that water infrastructure assets are intergenerational assets.

Click here for more information: “Water infrastructure assets are long-life intergenerational assets”

Low levels of ‘forever chemicals’ doesn’t mean we can wash our hands of them

A study has found NZ drinking water has relatively low levels of a class of chemicals known for persisting in the environment. But, the good news comes with important caveats

Read more

Palmerston North ratepayers could face $1000 annual bill for new sewage treatment system

Every ratepayer in Palmerston North could face an annual bill of at least $1000 for 30 years to fund a new sewage treatment system.

It is a situation that could be repeated across New Zealand as councils are warned there are no more free lunches when it comes to water.

Read more

Dry Hutt River causing concern

Wellington’s main water source – the Hutt River – is running at near record low flows, prompting one expert to question whether more water can be used to supply the cities.

Ecologist Dr Mike Joy, one of New Zealand’s leading freshwater experts, wants residents to think about the impact they are having on the Te Awa Kairangi/Hutt River every time they clean their car or water their lawn.

Read more

Drinking water standard for nitrate needs review - Canterbury public health expert

There is growing evidence the maximum allowable level of nitrate in drinking water should be halved, a Canterbury public health expert says.

It comes off the back of Greenpeace writing to Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand over its "serious public health concerns" about Canterbury's drinking water.

Greenpeace said drinking water independently tested in several of the region's towns had nitrates at levels which were linked to an increased risk of premature and underweight births.

Read more

Water recycling across New Zealand: The opportunities are here, the time is right, so what are we waiting for?

New Zealand’s precious water resources are finite, with a growing need for action to conserve and manage our water supply. By learning from international practices in recycled water use, we can develop customised standards for New Zealand’s unique needs to effectively manage our water supply into the future.

Read more

Palmerston North ratepayers could face $1000 annual bill for new sewage treatment system

That was a high-end estimate, he said, and one that was included in council consultation for its latest long-term plan.

The cost for the upgrade was not included in the plan, but some preparatory work was.

The previous government's Three Waters and Affordable Water Infrastructure programmes would have taken such costs off councils' books, but that ship had sailed.

Councils such as Palmerston North now have to find their own ways to pay.

"We're looking at the plant build itself through what they call an IFF - it's infrastructure funding and financing," Smith said.

"It's a mechanism that the government set up to fund big projects off balance sheet.

"We're looking at doing that in the same way that Tauranga City Council's done roading projects and transportation projects, and Wellington City Council's looked at its own wastewater and sludge plant at Moa Point."

Read more

Councils hope budget will answer flood defence funding call

“This money from the Government will allow the projects to move at a faster pace, several years in advance of where they might otherwise be if regional councils do the work by themselves,” Ponter said.

He said most of the projects have been consented to.

Environment Canterbury Chair Peter Scott said as well as improving stop banks, the projects vary from removing shingle from riverbeds, removing slash, planting near rivers and moving infrastructure that’s nearby to safer locations.

“Getting on top of our river issues in New Zealand from regional council’s perspective across the country is the most urgent issue we have,” Scott said.

“They (Government) assure us that that's the top of their hearts, but whether it's top of the Budget or not, we don't know so we're looking forward to the budget.”

The chairmen led the creation of Before the Deluge 2.0, a November 2023 report making the case for Government co-investment based on their original report, which was created before Cyclone Hale and Gabrielle struck.

Read more

Greenpeace concerned about high levels of nitrate in Canterbury's drinking water

Greenpeace has written to Te Whatu Ora - Health New Zealand over its concerns about nitrate in Canterbury's drinking water.

The organisation said it tested 445 water samples in North Canterbury this past weekend and the results indicated town supplies in Darfield, Kirwee and Oxford had nitrate levels above the 5mg/L threshold.

Spokesperson Amanda Larsson said that was the level which could increase the risk of pre-term birth.

"The highest readings we see are often from private bores in rural areas. It's less common to see such high readings in the public town supply. For comparison, about 80 percent of New Zealand's drinking water is below 1mg/L so 5 mg/L in the town supply is high," she said.

Read more

'Significant shortcomings' in NZ's emergency management system - inquiry

New Zealand's emergency management system has failed in places and is not fit for purpose, an inquiry into the response to last year's catastrophic North Island storms has found.

The inquiry - chaired by former Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae - found the country is not ready to respond to large-scale emergencies.

The report was released on Tuesday and found that in some places the system failed completely, and it did not enable people to properly prepare or respond to the disaster around them.

Read more

Pilot study will model Nature-based Solutions in Te Hakapupu / Pleasant River - ORC

ORC has been partnering with Kāti Huirapa Rūnaka ki Puketeraki to enhance the mauri (life force) and health of the Te Hakapupu / Pleasant River system in coastal East Otago via a restoration project called Toitū Te Hakapupu.

Now a pilot study being undertaken in the catchment will look at how Nature-based Solutions could help lessen the effects of flooding, setting the stage for opportunities Otago-wide.

Read more

Wellington approves an additional $8.3m for leak repairs

Wellington City councillors have stumped up with a further $8.3 million to fix Wellington’s crumbling water infrastructure.

On Thursday councillors approved the extra cash to allow Wellington Water to carry out urgent work.

Read the Post article

Tina Porou on Te Mana o te Wai

Poipoia founder, Tina Porou talks on Waatea News about the challenges to iwi and hapu posed by fast track legislation and rebalancing Te Mana o te Wai.

Listen to the interview

Councils explore regional water plan

A regional approach to “Local Water Done Well” is underway, with Wairarapa councils expected to fund a share of the investigative work as part of continued participation in the project.

Read the Wairarapa Times-Age story

Government Bill may help Aucklanders avoid Watercare's potential 25.8 pct water rates hike

Watercare has flagged a potential 25.8 percent water rates hike could be coming in July, but the Government might introduce legislation to avoid that.

The water rates hike was outlined in Auckland Council's Long Term Plan and Watercare's board of directors approved a potential price rise in January.

Read the Newshub report

Watercare flags 25.8 per cent rise in bills for Aucklanders

Watercare is telling Aucklanders it may need to increase bills by up to 25.8 per cent from July as senior politicians work on solutions to soften the blow.

Read more

Watercare CE contract extended

Our chief executive Dave Chambers, who has been serving as interim chief executive since February 2023, will be staying on as chief executive under a flexible fixed-term contract through to June 2025.

Read the Watercare release

'Shaky' times for scientific research with decade-long Our Land and Water challenge set to end

The gains made in agricultural science over the past decade could slow as the government funding tap runs dry, the director of a programme using science to fix real-world issues in Aotearoa's natural environment says.

Read more

Delays to insurance payout holds up wastewater plant repairs

There appears to be no end in sight for east Christchurch residents forced to put up with the foul stench from Bromley's fire-damaged wastewater treatment plant.

The Christchurch City Council is waiting for an insurance payout before it can repair the plant.

Read more

Government release: Delivering on Local Water Done Well

Cabinet has agreed on key steps to establish the Local Water Done Well framework and the transitional arrangement for the new water services system, Local Government Minister Simeon Brown says. The Government intends to introduce and pass legislation by mid-2024 that will establish the framework and transitional arrangements for the new water services system.

Read the Minister's press release

Key information has been shared with council mayors and chief executives. This includes an overview of policy decisions that will be reflected in the proposed Local Government Water Services (Transitional Provisions) Bill, which will soon be considered for introduction to Parliament.

Read information provided to council

Ngāi Tahu reaches out to councils on Three Waters replacement

Ngāi Tahu wants to work with Canterbury councils to find solutions for ageing water infrastructure - a move that has the support of mayors.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere (chair) Justin Tipa invited South Island councils to work with the iwi to address the challenge of providing sustainable water services.

Read the Star News story

Greymouth flood protection ‘to build confidence’

A project to improve Greymouth's flood protection to a one in 150-year flood event begins this week after four years of planning.

Local leaders suggest it will help boost confidence in the West Coast's largest town by enhancing the existing flood protection scheme, built in 1989-90 following two 100-year floods in 1988.

Read the ODT story 

Australia could soon be hit by ‘megadroughts’ lasting 20-plus years

Decades-long "megadroughts" could hit Australia, including the biggest agricultural region, in the near future as climate change continues to worsen severe weather conditions.

Read the Stuff article

Waikato councils face ‘billions’ in extra waters costs

Waikato councils are now officially facing an almost doubled $5.4 billion in water services-related costs over the next decade - and they’re now looking more closely at co-operation to keep those costs down.

Read more 

Coastal settlement tackles climate change

A small North Canterbury coastal community, working alongside the Hurunui District Council, is addressing climate change issues in preparation for the future.

Read more

Auckland Council draws a line in the sand as flood money runs out

Auckland Council has put a deadline on new weather-impacted property owners applying for categorisation as government funding looks set to run out.

Read the Newsroom article 

Cutting all that dam red tape

Dam safety regulations are being amended so that smaller dams won’t be subject to excessive compliance costs, Minister for Building and Construction Chris Penk says.

“The coalition Government is focused on reducing costs and removing unnecessary red tape so we can get the economy back on track.

Read the Government release

Regional council loses landmark legal challenge to mega-irrigation scheme

A court has ordered Canterbury’s regional council to reconsider a decision to allow the discharge of nitrogen and other contaminants from irrigated dairy land.

Read the Post article

John Campbell - Our water infrastructure is in the poo

TVNZ's chief correspondent John Campbell has taken a road trip up the lower North Island with one thing on his mind: water.

He began his journey at Lower Hutt's Seaview Wastewater Treatment Plant where he asked Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe whether we have any idea of the scale of the infrastructure problem facing us.

Read his report here

Councils call for $200 million flood protection investment

Councils, calling for government help to invest in flood protection, are frustrated they've been sent back to bureaucrats for more talks.

They say a $200 million investment now would save lives and billions of dollars, and not doing so will leave communities across the country vulnerable.

RNZ political reporter Russell Palmer has more.

Read more

Urgent need to unlock Three Waters funding and certainty – Water New Zealand/ACE New Zealand survey

Two thirds of respondents in a Three Waters pulse survey have had contracts either paused, deferred or cancelled in the past six months.

The survey, conducted by Water New Zealand and ACE New Zealand, across the membership of the two organisations, represents almost 100 contractors, consultancies, suppliers and councils.

Read our media release

Water regulator warns crisis will repeat, demands plan from Wellington Water

The country’s water regulator says it’s not confident Wellington Water is doing enough to prevent another water crisis next summer.

In a letter to Wellington Water and the region’s five councils, Taumata Arowai chief executive Allan Prangnell asked Wellington Water to provide a plan that showed steps it would take to mitigate this shorter term risk.

Read the Post article

And the RNZ interview with Taumata Arowai head of regulatory, Steve Taylor  

Money down the drain: The high cost of leaking water pipes

Public Health experts have estimated that around $122 million each year is lost from council and water utilities' balance sheets across the country due to leaking water pipes. 

Read the briefing document

More than $1 billion in assets at risk from Thames flooding

Thames is going to come up against some “big costs” as it attempts to tackle shoreline protection.

Thames-Coromandel Mayor Len Salt said those costs needed to be assessed against the value of what’s at risk.

Read more

Wetlands appeal overturns most of couple’s convictions

A Kāpiti Coast couple have won a court battle about changes to “wetland” areas, that led to one of them being jailed.

Landowner Julie Crosbie​ and her partner, Adrian Neil Page​, were charged with offences between December 2019 and March 2021, alleging various forms of damage and interference with wetlands and breaching abatement notices.

Read more

Wellington's water crisis poses a threat to future growth

Wellington Water chair Nick Legget says Wellington Water needs a budget of $7.6 billion over the next 10 years but the councils only had $2.8b in their long-term plans.

Spending $7.6b sounds like a lot of money, but with Wellington Water saying the region needed to spend $30b over 30 years to get infrastructure up to scratch, it is only a drop in the bucket.

Read the Post article

Plea to safeguard urban soil as pressure for new housing grows

A new report has found greater protection is needed for soil in urban areas, highlighting the important role it plays in natural drainage during heavy rain and providing green spaces in cities.

Read more

Texas farmers claim company sold them PFAS-contaminated sludge that killed livestock

Two ranches also allege biosolids with ‘forever chemicals’ ruined crops, polluted drinking water and left their properties worthless.

Read more 

Council locking in freshwater regulations ahead of law change

The Taranaki Regional Council will try to embed Te Mana o te Wai into its new freshwater plan before the Government re-writes resource laws.

Read more

New dam rules under review

Federated Farmers and Irrigation New Zealand are urging government to amend dam safety legislation before it’s enforced.

The Building (Dam Safety) Regulations 2022 are due to come into effect from May, but farmers say the perceived risk is not worth the extra time and money it’ll cost them.

Read the Stuff article

Two years before 800 Lower Hutt homes adequately chlorinated

It will take two years to adequately chlorinate the water supply for 800 Lower Hutt homes, Wellington Water says.

Regulator Taumata Arowai increased the chlorine requirements for drinking water in November 2022.

Read the RNZ story

Wellington Water residual disinfection exemption application declined

The water services regulator Taumata Arowai recently declined a residual disinfection exemption application for Wellington Water’s Waterloo Drinking Water Treatment Plant (WTP).

Head of Regulatory, Steve Taylor said that the regulator had only one option given the clear requirements of the Water Services Act 2021.

Read more 

Leaking pipes, sickness and sinkholes: Our water woes will likely get worse

Lest you think water woes are confined to tainted taps in tiny towns, or leaks sprouting across Wellington, think again - in a worst-case scenario even parts of Auckland are just a couple of days away from no running water.

Read the Sunday Star Times report

Water meters identify major leaks, postpone New Plymouth District Council pump station upgrade

Installing water meters has allowed the New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) to postpone a $4 million pump station upgrade for Urenui and Tikorangi in north Taranaki.

Read more

Meters, meters everywhere: water gets a rev-up

As the issue of water meters is put back on the agenda for many councils around the country, Water New Zealand says meters and volumetric charging are "a very important part of the toolkit to drive down water loss and improve water use efficiency”.

Read the Waikato Times report

Raglan wastewater discharge ‘a chronic problem’ with no short-term fix

Raglan locals sick of a wastewater discharge issue say it’s a “a chronic problem” with no short-term fix.

Read the Waikato Times story

Time ticking for Te Waikoropupū Springs

While it's some of the clearest water ever measured, it may not be for much longer.

Save Our Springs campaigner Kevin Moran is anxious about the spring's future.

Read the Newshub article

Auckland’s last-minute three waters change set to escape audit scrutiny

The 11th-hour reintroduction of water services into Auckland Council’s 10-year budget means an unaudited consultation or hidden rates shocks.

Read the Newsroom article

Water meters paying off for ratepayers – NPDC

Around half of New Plymouth District homes now have water meters, but the benefits are already flowing through for everyone.

This month the meters have had identified and helped to stop 463 cubic metres of water leakage a day, the equivalent of about 68 Olympic swimming pools a year.

Read more

Wellington set to bring in water meters, cuts to some services, to fix water network

Wellington City Council is planning to bring in water meters and cuts to some services and facilities to help pay for the city's failing water infrastructure.

Councillors held long talks today over how they'll stump up the more than $1 billion needed to repair thousands of leaky pipes.

See the Newshub story

Buller mayor says repeal of Three Waters will cause problems

Three Waters will be repealed by the end of next week, keeping water assets in councils' hands.

Local Government minister Simeon Brown says new legislation is coming, which will allow councils to deliver water infrastructure with more financial sustainability.

But Buller mayor Jamie Cleine says the move will cause problems for districts like his.

Listen to the RNZ interview

Simeon Brown on repealing Three Waters legislation

Local Government Minister Simeon Brown is confident that local councils will be capable of developing financially stable plans for water infrastructure.

This after the government announced on Monday that the Three Waters legislation will be repealed by the end of next week.

Listen to the RNZ interview

Government sets up advisory group ahead of Three Waters repeal

The government plans to repeal Labour's Three Waters laws by the end of next week, and is setting up an advisory group ahead of passing two replacement pieces of legislation.

The repeal will disestablish the water entities, keeping water assets in councils' hands.

See the RNZ report 

This press release from the government sets out the government's agenda for Local Water Done Well, which will replace Labour's Three Waters/Affordable Water reforms:

Government advances Local Water Done Well

The Coalition Government is continuing work to restore council ownership and control of water assets by repealing Three Waters and appointing a Technical Advisory Group to provide expert advice on the implementation of Local Water Done Well, Local Government Minister Simeon Brown says.

“The Government will pass a bill to repeal Labour’s divisive and unpopular Three Waters legislation by 23 February 2024 as part of our 100-day plan. This will restore continued local council ownership and control of water services, and responsibility for service delivery.

“Local Water Done Well will then be implemented by progressing two further bills through Parliament.

“The first bill will be passed by the middle of 2024 and will set out provisions relating to council service delivery plans and transitional economic regulation. It will also provide streamlined requirements for establishing council-controlled organisations under the Local Government Act 2002, enabling councils to start shifting the delivery of water services into more financially sustainable configurations should they wish to do so.

“A second bill to provide for the long-term replacement regime will be introduced in December 2024 and passed by the middle of 2025. This will set out provisions relating to long-term requirements for financial sustainability, provide for a complete economic regulation regime, and a new range of structural and financing tools, including a new type of financially independent council-controlled organisation.

“The second bill will also establish regulatory backstop powers, to be used when required to ensure effective delivery of financially sustainable or safe water services. In addition, it will also make necessary amendments to the water regulator’s legislation to ensure the regulatory framework is fit for purpose and workable for drinking water suppliers.

All legislation to support the implementation of Local Water Done Well is expected to be passed by mid-2025 – ahead of the local government elections in October 2025.

“Local Water Done Well recognises the importance of local decision making and flexibility for communities and councils to determine how their water services will be delivered in the future. We will do this while ensuring a strong emphasis on meeting rules for water quality and investment in infrastructure,” Mr Brown says.

“I have also established a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to contribute specialist and technical expertise to myself and the Department of Internal Affairs as we develop policy and legislation to implement Local Water Done Well.

“Leading experts in finance, infrastructure and local government will take on key roles as members of the TAG, marking an important step in the implementation of Local Water Done Well.

“The TAG will be focussed on providing advice and assurance on policy and legislative settings that will enable local councils to appropriately recover costs and access the long-term debt needed to fund the required investment in water infrastructure.”

Background information on Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Members:

Andreas Heuser (Chair), Managing Director at Castalia Limited. Andreas has a background in economic and policy projects specialising in energy sector strategy, water reform, and natural resource economics.

Raveen Jaduram, Director of the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission. Raveen has a background in water infrastructure, including six years as the Chief Executive of Watercare.

Wendy Walker, Chief Executive of Porirua City Council. Wendy has a background in local government, strategic planning, and public management.

Mark Reese, Partner at Chapman Tripp. Mark specialises in finance and infrastructure and has significant knowledge and experience across legal and financial aspects of project and asset financing.

Simon Weston, Chief Executive of Whangārei District Council. Simon has a strong background in infrastructure, construction and local government in the United Kingdom, Auckland, and Northland.

Govt called to pass policy stopping development in high-hazard areas

Forest & Bird is urging the government to pass a policy that would give councils more power to stop new development in high-risk areas.

The National Policy Statement for Natural Hazard Decision-making would require councils to evaluate the likelihood of a hazard such as floods, earthquakes, or landslips, when making planning decisions in a given area.

See the RNZ story

No bailing out water, says minister

Nationwide water metering and security over water assets are likely to be conditions of international financiers backing the new Government’s water services model, the minister is advised.

Read this report from the Newsroom's Jonathan Milne.

Council water spend unlikely to be enough to rid the city of chlorine

Despite spending $4.5 billion on Christchurch’s water infrastructure since the earthquakes, the city is still losing millions of litres of water a day and chlorine is likely to stay for years to come. 

Read this report from The Press

Infrastructure crisis looming large for our country’s councils

Routine sewage overflows, annual water restrictions, collapsing culverts and pipes, there is no escaping the fact that New Zealand is facing an infrastructure crisis.

After decades of neglect, when keeping local government property rates lowtook precedence over maintenance of vital networks, the reality of what lies ahead is now being felt by every council up and down the country.

Read the Stuff article

Minister advised to act urgently on local councils’ ‘significant financial stress’

Local Government Minister Simeon Brown says he’s firming up new ways to fund water services for cash-strapped councils – many of which are in need of central government support.

Read the Newsroom article

Former Kāpiti mayor says ‘bite the bullet’ over meters

“This ludicrous plan will be redundant,” Waikanae Beach resident Brody McKenna predicted in a letter to The Dominion Post in October 2012 over proposals to bring in “unwanted” water meters at the Kāpiti Coast.

More than a decade later, as residents in nearby Porirua, the Hutt Valley and Wellington City scrambled to get emergency water tanks for looming water shortages, Kāpiti has its water supply well under control.

Read the Post report 

Need for consumer advocacy in water service delivery

Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe says there's a need for a conversation about consumer protection in water service delivery including the level of service customers can expect and how to get access to complaints schemes when things go wrong.

She says complaints schemes offer an option for customers when a deadlock is reached with utility providers such as electricity, gas and telecommunications. A similar regulatory mechanism is needed for water services.

See the TVNZ 1News item 

Independent report and recommendations on Wellington Water released

The independent review was initiated by a resolution of Wellington City Council’s Long-term Plan Finance and Performance Committee. Agreement was reached to increase $2.3 million in additional opex funding to WWL, contingent on the conducting a review of WWL to enhance efficiency, identify cost savings, and improve transparency and reporting.

Read the report and the executive summary.

Taumata Arowai grants first exemptions from drinking water rules

Taumata Arowai has granted the first residual disinfection exemption for Selwyn District Council’s Rakaia Huts drinking water supply and a general exemption for the Torrent Bay drinking water supply.

Read more

Govt under pressure to fix Wellington's water crisis

Water New Zealand CEO Gillian Blythe says this has to be the year that central and local government work together to fix the long term under investment in infrastructure to develop a well defined, committed, and funded pipeline of work.

Listen to the interview with Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB.

West Coast facing urgent and costly water fix

If we have to do the full monty for all our little water supplies – treatment plants for everything with 200 users, for instance – we’d be bankrupt,” says Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine..

“Either regulator Taumata Arowai has to lower its standards and expectations or the Government has to fund the work."

Read the Newsroom article

Water infrastructure troubles – what needs to happen now

"The thing that keeps me positive is that we are having this conversation...and we now have a far better appreciation of how bad the problem is."

Water New Zealand's chief executive Gillian Blythe speaking on Newstalk ZB about the current water infrastructure crisis following decades of under-investment.

Listen to the interview

Podcast - What's behind NZ's water woes?

Our long term lack of investment in water infrastructure has created the perfect storm where aged, crumbling pipes have led to water restrictions in the capital and closed beaches in the country's biggest city.

Listen to Water New Zealand's CEO, Gillian Blythe, Gillian Blythe talking to Bernard Hickey about the why councils haven't invested enough and now the three waters legislation is about to be repealed, what needs to happen to fix infrastructure.

Dodgy water rules don’t wash with researcher

Hundreds of thousands of rural New Zealanders remain vulnerable to contamination in their drinking water, despite the formation of a body to provide oversight of water quality.

Research by University of Otago research fellow and freshwater expert Marnie Prickett highlights how, despite an inquiry into the 2016 Hawke’s Bay campylobacter outbreak, major holes remain in NZ’s drinking water standards and surveillance.

Read more

More water could be drawn from Hutt River to avoid Wellington’s shortage crisis

Emergency powers could be used to draw more water from the Hutt River and other sources to avoid a water shortage crisis in Wellington.

But an ecologist has warned this would come at the expense of freshwater species and the regional council says permission to draw more water would not be a fait accompli.

Read the Herald report

Wellington water shortage: State of emergency planned if restrictions fail

Authorities in Wellington have planned for a regional state of emergency if water levels get so low that suburbs run dry this summer.

The looming crisis has already prompted some residents to queue for hours to get their hands on emergency water tanks. Hutt City Council has reported it sold out of tanks in a matter of hours on Friday.

Read more

"If you don't invest, then it's just going to get worse, says Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe in response to Wellington's leaking pipes crisis.

New water pipe condition assessment tool

Everyone knows New Zealand’s water infrastructure is in a bad way, but we know almost nothing of the specifics – even how we use our water, says University of Canterbury’s Dr Derek Li.

Li and his colleague Professor Pedro Lee have received $360,000 of Marsden funding towards a second tranche of work developing a remote sonar system to track usage and the condition of the country’s water pipes.

Read more

The government needs to achieve real freshwater management outcomes

Opinion  The postponed freshwater plan December 2024 and review should be considered as an opportunity to ensure our freshwater management and the associated processes are sensible, effective and consistent across New Zealand.

Read Selva Selvarajah's view in the Otago Daily Times.

Plugging the leak in NZ’s water infrastructure

A UC research team has received $360,000 in Marsden funding to develop technology to assess and inform water use and infrastructure across New Zealand.

Read more

Need for emergency water storage in capital sinks in

The need for emergency water storage has sunk in for the capital’s residents who waited for hours for a new supply of 200-litre tanks to arrive at Wellington’s Tip Shop.

Read more

Lack of resources hampers iwi environmental input

A shortage of iwi environmental managers has created headaches for councils trying to obtain greater Māori input.

At a Nelson Regional Sewerage Business Unit (NRSBU) meeting last month, general manager regional sewerage and landfill Nathan Clarke said the unit hadn’t liaised with iwi as well as it would like, and there were “unfinished conversations”.

Read the Stuff article

NORTHLAND Troubled waters: Human waste flows through Hokianga locals' backyards, into harbour

uman waste is flowing right through Hokianga locals' backyards.

The Hokianga is New Zealand's fourth-largest harbour and for decades has been at the receiving end of multiple wastewater systems.

Read the Newshub story

Lake Ōmāpere: New deal to help save Northland’s largest lake

The health of Northland’s largest lake - Lake Ōmāpere - has been under threat for decades, but it’s hoped a new agreement will help restore its life force.

On December 21, Ngā Kaitiaki o Te Roto Ōmāpere (Lake Ōmāpere Trust) and Northland Regional Council signed an agreement to establish a formal, working relationship between the trust and the council.

Read more

Manawatū catchment project aims to better understand E coli

A collaborative project between DairyNZ, AgResearch and Manawatū’s Nguturoa Catchment Group will look at the best way to manage E coli in rural waterways.

Read more

South Wairarapa water restrictions in force, but more than 100 leaks remain

South Wairarapa residents has moved to level two water restrictions on Saturday, but the area has 103 leaks in the public water network.

Residents are expected to stop using sprinklers and irrigation systems under the restrictions as the area faces dry weather and increasing demand in water use.

Read more

Thousands of excess water bills remain unpaid

Thousands of Christchurch residents are yet to pay their excess water bills as the city council chases $680,000 in unpaid invoices.

Christchurch City Council started charging for excess water use in October 2022, with the first bills being sent out in late February last year.

Read The Press article

Government plans to inform councils on way forward

Local Government Minister Simeon Brown says he's writing to mayors and council chief executives to inform them of the Government's decision on the way forward for three waters reform.

Meanwhile the Gore District Council predicts it will cost $465 million to upgrade its three waters infrastructure in the next 30 years, and may request a meeting with the new government about how to fund the work.

Read the Stuff story

Government's February 2024 repeal approach

The Government plans to introduce and pass legislation early next year to repeal the previous government's water services approach.

The Government’s bill makes the following changes: 

• All legislation relating to water services entities will be repealed (contained in the Water Services Entities Act 2022, Water Services Entities Amendment Act 2023, and Water Services Legislation Act 2023).  

• All previous legislation related to the provision of water services will be reinstated (including local government legislation). This will restore council ownership and control of water services, and responsibility for service delivery. 

• The Northland and Auckland Water Services Entity (the only entity that had been legally established under the Water Services Entities Act 2022) will be disestablished and any outstanding work on the entity’s set-up will cease.  

• Councils will need to add and integrate information about water services into their 2024 long-term plans. Some transitional support options will be available to assist councils in completing their long-term plans. Guidance has been shared directly with councils.

The repeal bill is the first part of the Government’s new approach to water services delivery, Local Water Done Well, which sets out its plan for addressing this country’s long-standing water infrastructure challenges.

The Government is addressing these challenges with an approach that recognises the importance of local decision making and flexibility for communities and councils to determine how their water services will be delivered in future. It will do this while ensuring a strong emphasis on meeting rules for water quality and investment in infrastructure. 

The repeal bill is expected to be introduced in February 2024 and enacted as soon as possible as part of the Government’s 100-day plan.   

Further details about the Government’s future plans for water services will be shared in early 2024.

Scientists' letter calls for freshwater protections to remain

Fifty freshwater experts and leaders from around New Zealand have sent an open letter to Prime Minister Christopher Luxon urging him not to touch the country's national freshwater policy.

The government announced on 14 December that "Cabinet has agreed to replace the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020".

Read the RNZ story and see the letter 

Government to repeal Three Waters legislation

Cabinet has agreed to introduce and pass legislation early next year that will repeal Three Waters legislation.

Read more

Central Interceptor project budget increase

High inflation resulting in increased labour and material costs are seeing a budget increase for our Central Interceptor project to continue construction of a giant wastewater tunnel from Māngere Wastewater Treatment Plant to *Grey Lynn.

Read more

Housing construction may have to slow if Wellington Water’s woes not fixed

New housing developments around the Wellington region, even in areas such as Porirua where construction has been booming, are under threat without a massive increase in funding for Wellington Water.

Read more

NZ's water infrastructure - Can we ever be flushed with success?

TVNZ Re News journalist Baz Macdonald dives (literally) into what our water infrastructure is, the problems with it, and what has to be done to make sure we don’t end up drinking sheep turds or swimming in our own waste.

In this piece he questions how much people really know about our country's water infrastructure, despite the protest signs all over the country, and the multi-billion dollars needed to fix it.

See the story

Risk to hospitals, rest homes if Wellington runs out of water

Wellington Water is warning that if the region’s water runs dry, it cannot guarantee it will be able to prioritise the supply to hospitals and rest homes.

Read the Post article 

Queenstown's boil water notice lifted, compliance order met

Queenstown’s boil water notice has been lifted.

It was put in place in September after several cases of cryptosporidiosis were confirmed in the community.

Read more

Wellington water supply: Leaks and limits a focus as El Niño summer looms

The boss of Wellington Water is defending asking the public to think carefully about water usage, despite thousands of leaks being identified across the region.

There's a one-in-four chance the region will enter level four water restrictions this summer, meaning all outdoor water use would be banned and indoor use would be cut by half.

Find out more

A way through the disarray of new and old water reforms

New Plymouth Mayor, Neil Holdom Opinion: Water reform presents an early challenge for our new government and will financially impact every New Zealand household and business in perpetuity.

Read the article

Freshwater quality 'could go back decades' under new Govt plan

There are warnings that New Zealand’s freshwater quality could go back decades with a Government plan to roll back regulations.

Read the TVNZ story

Leaks could be the death-knell for Wellington

Wellington will “die” as a city if it does not fix its broken water infrastructure.

That’s the blunt message from economist Andrew Schoultz, in response to Wellington Water earlier this week saying the region needed to spend $1 billion a year, fixing infrastructure, for the next 30 years.

Read the Post article

Polluted waterways: New Zealand’s huge clean-up challenge revealed in report

Just as Kiwis get set to head to their favourite summer swimming holes, scientists have laid out the massive challenge New Zealand faces in cleaning up its polluted rivers and lakes.

Read the Herald story

List released of drinking water supplies without bacterial barriers and/or residual disinfection

Taumata Arowai has released a list of council and government drinking water supplies lacking a bacterial barrier and/or residual disinfection.

Find out more 

$30 billion and rising to fix Wellington’s water woes

Wellington Water has issued a dire warning it needs $30 billion to fix the region’s pipes, but councils say that rates are already going through the roof.

Read the Post story   

QLDC uses cheaper, less effective UV option in water quality 'quick fix'

The Queenstown Lakes District Council is banking on bringing all non-compliant water supplies across the district up to standard for a little less than $11 million.

Read more

Wellington City Council rejects water meters

Household water meters are at least half a decade away in Wellington city, with the council refusing to include installation in its draft long-term budget.

Read more

Aotea/Great Barrier Island: Fears invasive seaweed could cause environmental disaster

There are calls to make one of Auckland’s favourite getaway spots off-limits to boaties this summer, amid what threatens to be an environmental disaster for New Zealand.

Read more

Big rises in water charges and council credit downgrades

Wellington City Council is expected to be the first local authority in the spotlight as credit rating agency S&P Global warns today of the likelihood of council rating downgrades around the country.

Read the Newsroom article

Wellington businesses want clear, early communications on summer water restrictions

Wellington businesses are waiting on what water restrictions might mean for them this summer.

Wellington Water is currently working with emergency agencies to deal with potentially critically low water levels this summer.

Read the RNZ story

Sir Ashley Bloomfield's fluoridation orders unlawful, court rules

Orders to add fluoride to more than a dozen drinking water supplies have been ruled unlawful by the High Court, likely delaying plans for a significant expansion of fluoridation.

In July 2022, then Director-General of Health Sir Ashley Bloomfield directed 14 councils to fluoridate some or all of their drinking water supplies.

Read more

Queenstown cryptosporidium outbreak: Four more weeks of boiling water

Queenstown residents can expect to boil their water for about four more weeks as the local council works to protect the water supply from protozoa.

There have been 72 confirmed cases in the local outbreak, caused by cryptosporidium. Another 20 are suspected and two possible are under investigation.

See the RNZ story

Minister for Water needed to join dots

Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe discuses the call for a Minister of Water with Wallace Chapman on RNZ's The Panel.

She says that water issues encompass many different government and social agencies and there's a need for a Ministerial overview to join the dots and advocate for water in Cabinet.

Listen to the discussion here
(starts at 2 min 20 sec)

Councils plead for clarity on water infrastructure reform

A new government is still to be formed, but councils around the country are urgently wanting direction on what will happen with new policy on water infrastructure.

Wellington Water estimates it would take a billion dollars a year, for the next 10 years, to fully deal with its beleaguered infrastructure. RNZ's Kathryn Ryan discussed one of the most challenging components of council financial planning with acting chief executive of Wellington Water, Tonia Haskell, New Plymouth Mayor and provincial chair of Local Government NZ Neil Holdom, and Alex Walker, LGNZ's rural chair.

Listen to the interview

Three Waters demise leaves towns high and dry

The change of government could put one flood-prone community’s water-infrastructure upgrade plans in jeopardy.

Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine says the imminent scrapping of Labour’s water reforms leaves his community between a rock and a hard place with no clear way out.

Read the Newsroom article

Why New Zealand needs a Water Minister

Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe says the current uncertainty in the water sector is impacting on staff and causing project delays.

She says there's a big need for continued investment as well as the establishment of a new Minister for Water to help navigate the many regulatory and legislative arrangements that impact on the sector.

Find out more and listen to the Stuff podcast - Note interview starts at 3 minutes 30.

Internal Affairs agrees collective pay deal for water bodies that may never exist

Up to 8000 in-demand water workers are being offered pay rises to stay, as Aussie recruiters take advantage of uncertainty over Three Waters reforms.

Read the Newsroom story

Three Waters assets to move to new council-owned companies

National wants to protect ratepayers from soaring bills by moving the drinking water, wastewater and some stormwater assets off council balance sheets – while avoiding compulsion or co-governance.

Read more

Biggest council water company needs new funding 'urgently' if Three Waters scrapped

Auckland Council’s water company says it would face “a significant funding challenge” if the Three Waters reforms are scrapped, and it doesn’t shift into the proposed northern entity on July 1 in 2024.

Read the Stuff story

Warning over looming water battle

National wants to ‘re-balance’ the way fresh water is managed

The National Party’s primary sector growth plan, released last month, said: “As part of the RMA [Resource Management Act] replacement programme, National will consider ways to rebalance Te Mana o te Wai to better reflect the interests of all water users.”

Read the newsroom article

What does National mean when it says it will ‘repeal Three Waters’? What’s the replacement? Industry worries

The Water NZ Conference and Expo began on Tuesday in the midst of a number of issues across the country related to underinvestment in water infrastructure or the effects of climate change will have into the future.

Troy Brockbank, is a board member of Water NZ. He told the need for more investment into critical water infrastructure had been particularly highlighted in recent months, across the country.

Read the Te Ao News story

Water sector - "genuine" about Te Mana to Te Wai

Chief Executive of Te Runanga o Toa Rangatira, Helmut Modlik spoke of the genuine commitment by the water sector towards Te Mana o te Wai and engagement with iwi after his keynote opening address to the Water New Zealand Conference and Expo 2023 in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington.

Listen to the interview on Radio Waatea

Erin Brockovich, scientists warn of fight for water quality

An American water warrior immortalised by Hollywood has told a New Zealand crowd that water problems are getting much worse.

But Erin Brockovich's message to a Water NZ industry conference is that communities can - and must - stand up and fight.

See the TVOne News story

Raw sewage spill - "worst Auckland environment event in half century"

Water New Zealand CEO Gillian Blythe says we risk similar overflows in future unless we invest more in upgrading our ageing infrastructure.

See the Newshub story 

Council says Christchurch water safe to drink despite being non-compliant

It is unclear if a parasite barrier will be installed on an uncompliant water supply in Christchurch.

Water regulator Taumata Arowai last week wrote to the Christchurch City Council and 26 others which do not have protection against protozoa and other parasites on some of their supplies.

Read the RNZ report

First-of-kind pipes to reduce Auckland's carbon footprint, revive ageing water network

A new low-carbon stormwater pipe being installed today at the site of a sinkhole in central Auckland is the first of its kind in New Zealand.

Read the RNZ report

Flood risk reality arrives for thousands of city properties

City leaders will today begin grappling over whether to ban or severely limit new builds in places over concerns of flood risk to tens of thousands of Hamilton properties.

Read the Waikato Times story 

Waimakariri council loses bid for chlorine exemption

The last of Canterbury’s non-chlorinated public water supplies will soon be chlorinated after a decision by water regulator Taumata Arowai signalled the end of one council’s bid for exemption.

Read more

Taumata Arowai releases list of council suppliers without protozoa barriers and next steps

Taumata Arowai has today released a list of 27 councils that operate 84 drinking water supplies lacking a treatment barrier preventing protozoa from contaminating the water.

Read the media release

Several councils could face huge bills to get drinking water up to scratch

The national water regulator estimates hundreds of water treatment plants in New Zealand serving about 10 percent of the population do not have filters to keep protozoa out.

Several councils and government ministries could be facing bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to fit essential filters to their drinking water supplies in the wake of Queenstown's cryptosporidium gastro outbreak.

Listen to the Checkpoint interview

Climate change: Research on how increasing CO2 is affecting the Waikato River

The Waikato River is at the centre of a new multi-million-dollar programme aiming to reveal how increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are affecting rivers and lakes – and what that means environmentally, economically and socially.

Read more

Cryptosporidium outbreak: Taumata Arowai warns councils over new water filter laws

The national water regulator is not ruling out legal action against Queenstown Lakes District Council for the lack of barriersto filter out cryptosporidium.

Read the Herald story 

Queenstown businesses buying private filters as water crisis continues

As Queenstown businesses look to buying private filters as the water crisis continues, Water New Zealand's Noel Roberts warns there's "no cookie cutter fix" when it comes to water treatment and it's not a "set and forget" piece of kit. He says that without correct maintenance, filters can become "a bug farm".

"How much a system may cost will depend on how much water capacity is needed for a business to operate - a coffee shop will be able to make do with a cheaper set-up than a hotel with hundreds of rooms - and the price tag could range from a couple of thousand of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

Read more 

Making our drinking water safe

The more we know, the more it costs when it comes to delivering water. With new discoveries about bugs come new technologies to deal with them, and it often adds up to more than councils can afford.

Listen to the RNZ podcast

Water woes: It could have been us, says Mayor

After a week of water and weather woes resulting in Queenstown issuing a boil water notice, and both Naseby and Omakau residents asked to conserve water to prevent the same, Central Otago mayor Tim Cadogan says this region has long made water quality standards a priority, but it is a long and costly process.

Read more

Cryptosporidium outbreak: Queenstown could face months of boiling water as officials work on fix

Residents in Queenstown could be boiling their water for months as officials grapple with a parasite outbreak of cryptosporidium.

Of the outbreak so far, Te Whatu Ora South has confirmed 30 cases, with other possible cases being investigated.

Read more

Queenstown residents told to boil water after sickness outbreak

Queenstown residents have been warned to boil their water or risk serious illness.

Residents and businesses in Queenstown and Frankton have been given a boil water notice on a public supply by the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) this afternoon.

Read the Herald story

Bigger incentives needed to fix our leaking infrastructure

As we head towards the election, tackling our long term under-investment in water infrastructure needs to remain a key focus.

Recently updated water loss guidelines have been developed to help councils tackle their leaking infrastructure. Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe says cutting our excessive level of water wastage will become a vital tool in ensuring a sustainable water future.

The amount of water lost in water networks in Aotearoa New Zealand is eye-watering. More than the combined volume of water supplied to Wellington and Christchurch’s networks is lost in council water pipes on the way to its end use. Roughly one bucket of water is lost for every five that enter the networks.

This is only half of the story. It’s estimated that losses in private household pipes are often equivalent to the water lost on the council side. For example, reported estimates from Wellington Water show that Wellington City’s total water loss is 41 percent while Upper Hutt City’s reaches 52 percent.

Recognising the case for change, water experts around New Zealand have joined forces to update the guidelines for councils to reduce their water loss. A particular challenge when roughly only half of the country’s networks have meters.

You can’t manage what you cannot measure. Without a good understanding of how much water is being used in people’s homes and businesses it is difficult to make accurate assessments of how much water is being wasted, and importantly, where to target efforts.

With losses occurring in pipes buried far below ground, identification and rehabilitation of water leaks can be a costly business.

International experts have estimated the total costs of repairing our long term water infrastructure deficit could be as high as $120 to $185 billion over the next thirty years.

The flip side to this is that without leak repair, the ongoing operational and environmental costs begin to mount. Finding new water sources, and treating and distributing drinking water costs money, regardless of whether it is sent to an end user or leaks out on the way.

As well as leakage into the ground, worsening summer droughts caused by climate change will continue to result in less water returned to lakes and rivers. This leads to increased algal blooms and loss of aquatic habitat – also indicative of a wider picture where not enough priority or value is placed on the health and wellbeing of water.

The challenge water suppliers face in addressing leakage is in justifying the investment needed for investigations and repair. While changes have been made to resource management legislation, and an economic regulator of water services established, both will need to be carefully implemented if they are to meaningfully drive down our water losses.

With climate change expected to increase the length and intensity of droughts it is vital we take steps to shore up our water supplies. The Aotearoa New Zealand national climate change risk assessment ranked potable water supplies as our country’s most urgent climate risk.

Reducing water loss is a no regrets way to improve our resilience against drought. Reducing water losses avoids the need to build costly infrastructure, which in turn, further drives up emissions contributing to climate change.

With NIWA’s seasonal outlook signaling El Nino conditions, bringing above average chance of dry weather in the east and across much of the North Island, it is timely we start considering what steps we can all take to play our part to get through a potentially dry summer.

Householders have a role to play. If you are in a region with water meters, monitor your bills for unusual spikes in usage or gradual increases that could signal a water leak. If your meter still moves when you’re not using water, it is likely you have a leak.

All homeowners can regularly inspect for leaks, by keeping an eye out for dripping faucets, toilet cisterns, and keeping an eye out for pooling in the yard. Ensure hoses and irrigation systems are properly connected, do not leak and are turned off when not in use.

It’s clear that our water security future is a national debate. Long term certainty hinges on decisions we are make now, including the incentives to invest in infrastructure. Water suppliers will need certainty about the operating environment to help unlock the investment needed to tackle these challenging issues.

The Waterloss guidelines are available from the Water New Zealand website at The guide’s development was initiated by Water New Zealand’s Water Conservation Action Network, funded by the Water Service Managers Group and delivered by a consortium of consultants – Thomas Consultants Ltd as lead consultant (Richard Taylor), Water Cycle Consulting (Christine McCormack), BECA (Jon Reed), WSP (Dan Johnson) and Water Loss Research & Analysis Ltd (Allan Lambert).

Watercare names and shames worst Auckland suburbs for feeding fatbergs

Watercare has named five Auckland suburbs where too much oil and fat is being washed down drains.

Solidified fats cause pipes to block and sewage to overflow and the clean-up costs $6 million a year.

See the Newshub story

Locals question council plans to concrete over creek

A community group on Auckland's Te Atatu peninsula is questioning council plans to pour concrete and turn one of the last creeks in the area into a stormwater pipe.

Aging infrastructure and storms have exposed the urgent need to upgrade the city's pipes.

Read more

Forest & Bird calls for better river management on West Coast

Councils need to rethink the way they manage waterways to reduce the risk of devastating floods, Forest & Bird is warning.

The organisation's freshwater advocate Tom Kay spoke about its report, Making Room for Rivers, at a West Coast Regional Council meeting on 12 September.

Read more

Wellington faces highest level of water restrictions this summer

Two minute showers, one weekly load of laundry and no washing the car or watering the garden — this is the summer holiday facing the region.

Strict rules limiting water use are likely to come into effect over summer as Wellington balances increasing demand and dry weather.

Read the Post story

Water summit as region on brink of crisis

When it comes to Wellington’s water shortage, there is no shortage of suggested solutions.

Fix the leaky pipes, install water meters, build another dam; inevitably, one day, all of the above. But in what order?

Read the Stuff article

30 hectares of solar panels planned for Bell Island in wastewater deal

Bell Island could be a site of renewable energy generation if plans for a 30 megawatt solar array come to fruition.

Nelson Regional Sewerage Business Unit general manager regional sewerage and landfill Nathan Clarke said a 30 hectare facility was on the table for the island, with Infratec currently working through the specifics of the design, coastal hazards and resource consenting.

Read the Stuff article

Climate change challenges wastewater treatment plant

The effects of climate change are now impacting on Nelson-Tasman's wastewater treatment facility on Bell Island, with new land needing to be found for its long-term viability.

One of the immediate concerns for the facility - which serves Nelson City and Tasman communities as far as Wakefield and Māpua - is it being inundated with excess wastewater during major rainfall events.

Read more

Daiken NZ admits it caused wastewater spill into North Canterbury waterway

The company responsible for a wastewater spill into a waterway in North Canterbury says it is intent on finding out the causes of the incident.

On Friday the Canterbury Regional Council (ECan) said it was responding to reports of a toxic discharge from a factory near the Ashley township at Saltwater Creek.

Read the RNZ report

Flood protection based on historical records is flawed – we need a risk model fit for climate change

Aotearoa New Zealand has little in the way of national-level guidance on managing flood risk. Despite this, survey responses suggest flood risk professionals are aware of the issue. They agree residual flood risk is increasing, mainly due to climate change and ongoing development in flood-prone areas.

Read more

See open access link to Paper

New Papakura treatment plant boosts Auckland’s water supply by 12 million litres

The new $81m Papakura Water Treatment Plant will help boost Auckland’s water supply by 12 million litres a day when it went in to service on Thursday (31 August)

The construction of the treatment plant to reinstate Hays Creek Dam, which had been out of service for 15 years, was fast-tracked s part of drought response back in 2020.  

Read the Watercare article

Wellington study could improve worldwide access to coastal freshwater - NIWA

A new NIWA study in Wellington Harbour will help scientists find untapped drinking water around the world.

For the first time, NIWA used several techniques to map and understand the Waiwhetu Aquifer. This is a reservoir of drinking water that lies beneath the Hutt Valley and Wellington Harbour, and it releases freshwater from deep under the seabed via natural springs.

Read more

Police admit 'mis-steps' in investigation into Lachie Jones drowning in wastewater ponds

Gore District Council chief executive Stephen Parry has described police admission of mistakes over the investigation into the drowning of three year old Lachie Jones in the town's wastewater ponds ‘’highly frustrating”.

In March, the council was ordered to pay $55,000 to each of Lachie’s parents after pleading guilty to charges bought by WorkSafe in relation to the fencing at the ponds when he died.

Read the Stuff story.

Govt urged to explore wetlands as carbon sink

Farmers building wetlands on their land are urging the Government to do more to explore their potential to absorb carbon.

Read the Newshub story

Flood, cyclone recovery work: Auckland Council backs $2b funding deal with govt

Auckland Council has unanimously voted to share costs with the government to fund more than $2 billion of flood recovery and resilience works, pending consultation.

Read the RNZ report 

Final Three Waters bills pass through Parliament

The Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill passed its Committee and Third Reading stages last night (Wednesday 23 Aug).

The Water Services Legislation Bill also passed both stages under urgency yesterday morning.

The two bills follow the passage of the Water Services Entities Amendment Bill last week, which put in place changes proposed in April- including a shift from four water services entities to 10.

This means the legislative pieces of the Government's Three Waters programme are now in place.

Water New Zealand is hosting a webinar for members on 4 September (11 am - 12 pm) to explain the changes to the legislation as a result of the Select Committee report back, Supplementary Order Papers and what it means for water services. Click here to register

Prosecution initiated over Waikato piggery farm effluent discharges

Waikato Regional Council has initiated a prosecution against a piggery farm near Te Aroha following an investigation into the discharge of effluent into a stream.

Read more

The 82-year-old wastewater apprentice and his 24-year-old senior'

Hugo Manson from Masterton is most likely the oldest apprentice in the country.

The 82-year-old has taken up a role at the Juken New Zealand Timber Mill in its wastewater department.

Read the TVNZ story

The toilet paper clue that helped lead to a conviction

The half-roll of toilet paper on top of the toilet was a clue.

So were the dripping taps, the wet bath mat and the washing machine filled with washing.

Read more

Helen Clark Foundation and WSP propose distinctive NZ ‘sponge cities’ model for addressing urban flood risk

In a major new research report, the Helen Clark Foundation and WSP in New Zealand are recommending a series of actions to respond to the escalating impacts of climate change-induced extreme rainfall events. Read more

Why NZ’s cities need to get ‘spongier’ - and fast

Following a summer of disastrous deluges, a major new report concludes our cities will need to be “spongier” to meet increasingly extreme weather. 

Read the Herald report

Auckland Council cut spending on stormwater repairs and maintenance before January’s catastrophic floods

Plans were under way at Auckland Council to cut spending on stormwater repairs and maintenance shortly before the catastrophic January 27 floods, official papers show.  Read the Herald story

Palmerston North's wastewater proposals are back on track

Planning for Palmerston North’s $500 million new wastewater management scheme has taken a delayed step forward.

Auckland Floods: Council launches tool for residents to check flood risk

The Auckland Council has launched an online tool for residents to check the flood risks in their areas.

Flood Viewer highlights flood plains, low-lying areas, overland flow paths and coastal areas which could be covered by sea water during a storm. Read the RNZ report

$50m: The cost of keeping sewage out of Whanganui River

The bill for fixing Whanganui's strained waterwater system to stop sewage seeping into the river is set to cost ratepayers an extra $50 million over the next 30 years.

At a meeting on Thursday Whanganui District councillors were told stormwater was regularly overwhelming the sewerage network during heavy rain.

Read the RNZ report

Watercare starts search for contractors to partner with on $3.5b asset renewal programme

Auckland’s water and wastewater services company is releasing its request for proposal (RFP) to the construction industry today.

The $3.5b programme includes the biggest investment that Watercare has made in proactive replacements of Auckland’s water and wastewater network pipes, which makes up about three-quarters of the overall programme.

Read the media release

$17m upgrade at Helensville Wastewater Treatment Plant

A $17million upgrade of the Helensville Wastewater Treatment Plant has vastly improved the quality of the treated wastewater and means the plant is better able to cope with peak flows in wet weather.

The upgrade includes New Zealand’s first installation of a ‘membrane aerated biofilm reactor’ – relatively new technology for the biological treatment of wastewater.

Read more

High level of protection closer for Te Waikoropupu Springs

The Environment Court has recommended the highest national protection for the Te Waikoropupu Springs in Golden Bay, with tough conditions on nitrate levels and irrigation in the surrounding area.

Read the Stuff story

‘Massive gap’ around Westport flood protection expectations

Westport residents are likely to be waiting until 2024 to get a clearer picture of how they will be flood-protected.

But a "massive gap" exists between public expectation and what will be built, Westport based West Coast Regional councillor Frank Dooley said.

Read the RNZ report

Water services legislation reform - progress update

The Water Services Entities Amendment Bill, which, among other matters, resets the number of water services entities from four to ten, has just been reported back from the Governance and Administration Select Committee.

You can read the updated bill here

This means that there are now three key pieces of water reform related legislation awaiting Second Reading - the other two bills being the Water Services Legislation Bill and the Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill.

The next sitting date for Parliament is Tuesday, 1 August.

“We are going backwards” - Wellington Water behind target on pipe renewals

Wellington Water has come under fire for failing to keep up with desperately needed water pipe renewals.

The ‘ideal renewal rate’ for the water authority is to replace 100 kilometres of pipes every year. But the latest Wellington Water Committee agenda shows it’s renewed only 18km in the 2022/23 period to July this year. Read the Herald story

All New Zealanders deserve clean and fresh water - Waipuna aa Rangi

The chair of Waipuna aa Rangi says all New Zealanders deserve clean and fresh water.

Waipuna aa Rangi is the first of ten Māori representative boards named in the water service public entities, under the Water Services Reform Programme.  Listen to the interview on Waatea News.

Flood-prone areas of city inundated, an increasingly common scenario

Flooding is a feared and familiar sight for many Christchurch residents, and streets close to the Heathcote and Avon rivers took another hammering during the weekend’s heavy rain. Read the Stuff article

Call for new Cabinet minister to handle water issues stemming from climate crisis

Water New Zealand's draft submission on enhancing the resilience of Aotearoa New Zealand’s critical infrastructure says the government could consider the establishment of a ministry for water to improve coordination and consistent policy making.

Water New Zealand members can access our draft submission here and provide feedback by 4 August.

Read the RNZ report

EPA releases findings on forever chemicals in groundwater

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has released a report with results from the first large-scale survey of per-and-polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in New Zealand groundwater wells. Read more

‘Managed retreat’ for coastal Kāpiti back in the spotlight

Hundreds of Kāpiti Coast properties are back in sights of authorities planning a future where rising seas are forecast to inundate ocean-front communities. Read the Post story

Waiho River's change in course may threaten Franz Josef waste water system

Rural properties and Franz Josef's waste water treatment system may be threatened by the flood-prone Waiho River changing its course. Read the RNZ report

17,000 homes and businesses overcharged by defective ‘smart’ water meters

17,000 homes and businesses overcharged by defective ‘smart’ water meters.  Read more on Newsroom Pro

NZ lakes comparable with Europe and USA for plastic pollution - research

In a global analysis of plastic pollution levels in freshwater lakes, it appears New Zealand has come out punching well above its weight, and not in a good way. The study revealed high levels of plastic pollution in New Zealand lakes which University of Waikato Associate Professor and freshwater ecologist Dr Deniz Özkundakci says is disappointing.

Read more

Many water supplies in New Zealand still need new safety plans

Three-quarters of the country's water supplies still do not have the required plan that identifies hazards to water sources, but those that do cover most of the population. Read the RNZ report

‘Green stream’ complaints result in $244K fines

A prosecution taken by Waikato Regional Council against a dairy farming operation in Ngaroma, near Ōtorohanga, has resulted in a number of convictions, significant fines and the imposition of an Enforcement Order.  Read more

Aotearoa’s ‘beating heart’, Lake Taupō, is doing better than expected

Lake Taupō has exceeded water quality expectations, hitting targets ahead of schedule, according to landmark Waikato Regional Council research. Read the Waikato Times story.

Hastings mystery solved: Report reveals what’s eating hot water cylinders, and offers a chemical solution

A new report has solved the mystery of why Hastings hot-water cylinders are failing at alarmingly high rates, and offered a potential chemical solution.  Read the Herald story

Holes found in Westport flood plan

As a multimillion-dollar project to protect one of the most flood-prone towns in the country moves ahead, an engineering review suggests a rethink is needed. Read the Newsroom article

Wellington region records more than 7000 sewage overflows in five years

Sewage is spilling from the Wellington region’s ageing water pipe network hundreds of times every year, with Wellington city and Lower Hutt the worst offenders.

Information released to the Herald under the Official Information Act shows between 2018 and 2023 there were 7034 wastewater overflows in Wellington, Porirua, Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt.

Read the Herald report

Christchurch head of Three Waters resigns after extended leave

Christchurch City Council has confirmed the resignation of its head of three waters.

Helen Beaumont had been out of office since February this year, with colleague Brent Smith temporarily taking on the role in her absence.

Read the RNZ story

Taumata Arowai releases report on the state of drinking water in Aotearoa

Allan Prangnell, Chief Executive of Taumata Arowai the water services regulator, has announced the publication of its Drinking Water Regulation Report 2022.

University partners with hapū to build freshwater knowledge

Waipapa Taumata Rau and Winiata marae are working together to improve freshwater quality in the rural town of Taihape. Read more

Water education given a fresh perspective

Tamariki in Waikato can learn the importance of valuing water, thanks to a flood of new educational resources.

Jointly developed by Smart Water and University of Waikato’s Science Learning Hub, the resources make it easier for students to learn about the journey of water from source to tap.

Read more

Experts look to nature to help improve Auckland's flood resistance

Experts are looking to nature to help improve Auckland's resilience to flooding in the future by looking at "daylighting" the region's waterways.

Read the TVNZ report 

The Boy in the Water: a new investigative podcast

'The Boy in the Water', a new podcast from Newsroom about the case of three year old Lachlan Jones who drowned in the Gore sewage oxidation pond.

Listen Melanie Reid's first three podcasts 

Council increases excess water limit and confirms 6.4% rates increase

Christchurch residents can now use more water before an excess charge kicks in, as the city council increases the daily limit.

Read The Press article 

Project helps farmers clean up blighted estuary

A project to support 15 Bay of Plenty farmers to transition to lower-footprint systems has contributed to improved awareness of water quality in one of New Zealand’s most degraded estuaries.

Read the Farmers Weekly story

Poll shows more young people want to build on climate-vulnerable land, most people willing to relocate

Younger people are more supportive of building on land that is susceptible to the impacts of climate change, a Herald poll has found.

Read the Herald article

Firefighters worry about housing intensification impacts

Firefighters have told Auckland leaders that a lack of water for hoses, and increasingly jammed-up roads and jammed-in housing are making fighting fires worse. Listen to the RNZ report.

Ngāi Tahu unleashes over lakes

Blistering feedback from mana whenua skewers agencies over systemic failures at Ōtūwharekai/Ashburton Lakes. Read the Newsroom report.

Farmer wasting thousands of litres of water in protest at council charges

Rangiora farmer Rodney Beck has started pouring an estimated 10,000 litres of drinking water a day down the drain in a protest against Waimakariri District Council water charges.  Read more

Final water reform legislation introduced

The final piece of legislation for the Government’s revamped affordable water reforms has been introduced to the House today.

The Water Services Amendment Bill changes the Water Services Entities Act 2022 to replace 4 water services entities with 10, allowing for greater community ownership of water entities.

Read the Bill and the Local Government Minister's media release.

The Department of Internal Affairs is required to prepare a disclosure statement to assist with the scrutiny of this Bill. The disclosure statement provides access to information about the policy development of the Bill and identifies any significant or unusual legislative features of the Bill.

A copy of the statement can be found at

The Department of Internal Affairs produced a regulatory impact statement on 9 May 2023 to help inform the main policy decisions taken by the Government relating to the contents of this Bill.

A copy of this regulatory impact statement can be found at—

Local Government Minister, Kieran McAnulty anticipates the Bill will be referred to Select Committee later this month.

Law change empowers a new consumer advocacy agency for water

A select committee law change enables the creation of a Three Waters consumer advocacy group, rather than relying entirely on the Commerce Commission to protect community interests.

Read the Newsroom report

Three Waters select committee slates officials usurping democratic process

Select Committee changes to the Water Services Legislation Bill make the water new corporations primarily responsible for managing and maintaining all watercourses, even over private property. The report acknowledges this is a "significant addition" to the water entities' operational responsibilities.  Read the Newsroom story.

Hawke's Bay Māori grapple with buyout decisions

Hawke's Bay Māori are grappling with huge decisions in the wake of the Government's proposed buyout of cyclone-hit homes most at risk of being flooded again.

Iwi and hapū had difficult conversations ahead with whanau about whether they leave their cultural roots behind or risk their lives holding down the ahi ka.

Listen to the RNZ report 

Biodegradable plastics that don't break down

Recent research has found that many so-called biodegradable plastics are not breaking down and have been found in marine environments.  Listen to this interview on RNZ 

Hundreds of homeowners to get voluntary buyout offers for cyclone-hit properties

About 700 homeowners nationally will get Government and council buyout offers after suffering damage in cyclones earlier this year. Read the Stuff article.

Co-governance is good governance

Water New Zealand Board member, Troy Brockbank discusses issues raised at the Water New Zealand Stormwater Conference 2023, including the need for Te Mana o te Wai, nature-based solutions and the need for better planning to live with water. Listen to the korero on Radio Waatea

Water infrastructure failures show low resilience

New report on water infrastructure failures from Cyclone Gabrielle show low resilience to climate change. Read the report.

'Hard lessons we need to learn' - Stormwater conference faces harsh climate reality

A dour mood hung above this year's Stormwater New Zealand Conference, as attendees reflected on months of flooding and severe weather.

"I need to apologise in advance for any recent trauma that this presentation might trigger," Auckland Council's Nick Brown said before playing a montage of the flood's most destructive moments. Read the RNZ report

Multiple barriers needed to keep drinking water safe

Chlorine is very good at killing bugs that can kill us - Water New Zealand CEO Gillian Blythe explains why it's so important to have multiple barriers against drinking water contamination, including residual disinfectant, right to the tap. 

Listen to the The Panel on RNZ 

Cyclone and flood recovery support must be fiscally sustainable - Robertson

New Zealand needs to prepare for the reality that weather events such as Cyclone Gabrielle and the Auckland Anniversary floods will continue to happen "more and more", the finance minister says. Listen to the RNZ interview

‘We need to pull every lever’: Water review suggests 25 million cubic-metre shortage by 2040

An updated draft of the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s (HBRC) Regional Water Assessment (RWA) says it needs to “pull every lever” to reduce demand for water. Read the Hawkes Bay Today story

Auckland drains 'at capacity' during flooding, council says

Stormwater catchpits, drains and pipes across Auckland during Tuesday’s heavy rain and subsequent floodingwere at capacity, the council has said. See the TVNZ story

Company found guilty over ‘knackered’ state of leaking wastewater treatment plants

A large contracting company has been found guilty over the appalling state of Clutha’s wastewater treatment plants.

Judge Brian Dwyer found City Care Ltd guilty in the Dunedin District Court on six charges related to discharges or permitting of discharges of contaminants from wastewater treatment plants at Stirling, Owaka, Kaka Point, Tapanui and Lawrence in late 2019. Read the Herald article

Legal opinion challenges ECan's interpretation of water bottling court decision

A legal opinion, obtained by two councils, backs up claims that Environment Canterbury has incorrectly interpreted a court decision that is causing delays to millions of dollars worth of projects. Read the Press article

Brown indicates flood-damaged homes won't be compensated, says NZ 'must learn' from 'catastrophic' weather events

Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown has indicated homes damaged by the wild weather in two devastating storms earlier this year won't be compensated.

Auckland has been hit hard by wild weather this year. The region was devastated by the Auckland Anniversary floods on January 27 and again just two weeks later by Cyclone Gabrielle. Read the Newshub story.

Work underway for national approach to managing stormwater runoff and reducing flood damage

Planners are working on a national approach for improving how cities and towns manage stormwater runoff to minimise flood damage.

Stormwater was incredibly damaging in the Auckland anniversary day floods and Cyclone Gabrielle in February. Read the RNZ story.

New Zealand's first waste water recycling plant launched in Māngere

Mangere, South Auckland, has become the home of New Zealand's first-ever wastewater recycling plant that produces water for both industrial and eventually drinking water use. Read the report on Te Ao Māori News

'Our tīpuna knew when to move' - The difficult conversations about managed retreat for Māori

After the devastating impact of land loss, there is an understandable reluctance among some Māori to give up the land they have left. But the changing climate will eventually inflict more pain on the most flood-prone places.

Read the RNZ report

Fall in summer peak-time water use could save Christchurch ratepayers millions of dollars

A drop in the amount of water used at peak times in Christchurch could mean less new infrastructure is needed if the practice continues – potentially saving ratepayers millions of dollars.

Read the Stuff article

Thousands of state houses on flood prone land, and more going up

A sizeable chunk of state housing is on flood prone land, and Kāinga Ora continues to put new builds on land it knows will flood in the future.

Currently, more than 15 percent of the state housing portfolio was on flood prone land.

Read the RNZ report

Down the drain - the multi million dollar wipes problem

Too many wipes are getting stuck in pipes and causing multi-million dollar problems for councils. Watch Water NZ CEO Gillian Blythe talk about why people should never flush wipes.  See the Seven Sharp item

Lack of robust data in environment reports

Freshwater ecologist, Mike Joy says two statistical methods used in a freshwater report are flawed. But as Newsroom's David Williams reports, a lack of robust data and information has been hampering understanding of the true state of the environment for many years.  Read more 

Thousands of Christchurch residents stung with bill for using too much water

More than 15,000 Christchurch residents have now been stung with a bill for using too much water this summer.

The average bill is $84, but one Woolston property has managed to rack up $2884 worth of excess water charges. Read the Stuff report.

At least three more months before Napier's wastewater is fully treated before entering sea

It will be at least another three months before Napier’s sewage is properly treated before entering the sea.

Read the Stuff article

Cost of flood damage to Watercare’s broken network could now hit $460m

The estimated cost of Watercare’s rebuild after Cyclone Gabrielle and Auckland Anniversary flooding could now hit $460m. Read the Stuff article

Finally, water’s health is being put first

Two water-first decisions, 1000km apart, suggest the country is turning a conservation corner. Read this report from Newsroom's David Williams.

Why NZ (really) needs water reform – in five charts

The latest state-of-our-waters report shows why we really need Three Waters reform. It's partly because there are still some pretty grim numbers, but also because there are welcome signs the reforms we already have are starting to make a difference.

Read Newsroom's report on Water New Zealand's National Performance Review findings 

Watercare rolls out digital water meter solution to better service commercial properties

New Zealand’s largest water services provider, Watercare has started rolling out smart loggers on water meters for commercial premises in Auckland to better manage water usage across the city, save on manual reads and improve billing accuracy for commercial premises. Read more

World Water Day 2023 – making room for water

World Water Day 2023 – making room for water

Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe says this summer’s flooding events have provided a clear indication that we need to change the way we live with water and that we need more consistency and national leadership.

Globally, we’re facing unprecedent water challenges as population growth and climate change start to impact.

Even in our remote corner of the world, this summer has shown us that we’re not immune to the enormous consequences that climate change will present, and we need to re-think the way we live with water – in both urban and rural environments.

The January flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle was clearly beyond the scope that any council or stormwater utility could be expected to manage with traditional infrastructure and the consequent devastation suffered by so many families and communities was heart breaking.

It was clear that while Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland may have the title of the world’s spongiest city, it was no match for the extremes of nature that shook the urban infrastructure and environment in January.

Creating and developing more urban sponges in our cities needs to be a vital part of future planning but we need to do more than that.

Water sensitive urban design (WSUD) - daylighting natural streams, planting vegetation to absorb the water and trap sediments and pollutants, minimising impervious surfaces and creating spaces that mimic the natural water cycle, are all integral parts or urban development.

WSUD addresses both water quantity and water quality issues. WSUD draws upon the processes of natural systems and adapts these to suit urban environments. It integrates the processes inherent in water systems with the ‘built environment’ – buildings, infrastructure and landscapes.

Larger-scale green infrastructure like wetlands and basins as well as making room for the river, or flood are also important features of WSUD. For instance, Christchurch has invested in over 100 hectares of basins in the Upper Heathcote to significantly reduce flood risk along the river. In Auckland the daylighted Awataha Stream and Greenslade Reserve stormwater detention park held up well during the January floods, with much greater capacity than a traditional hard infrastructure network.

But we can’t rely solely on WSUD, sponginess and piped networks. We need to take a much more joined up national approach to planning our urban environment.

Climate change management needs to be part of every council’s strategic, spatial, and operational planning and it needs to be done in a nationally consistent manner.

For instance, we need nationally consistent direction on managing and restricting development in areas of high or increasing risk such as flood plains and overland flow paths.

This needs to be backed up by more stringent enforcement of planning rules. In many places, existing planning rules aimed at preventing building in high hazard zones are weak or have been overruled when challenged by developers while the advice of stormwater and planning experts have been ignored.

Equity issues arise in communities vulnerable to flooding because low median household incomes make it more difficult for local authorities to fund the protection work needed through rates.

We need to stop allowing short-term, quick return thinking to influence decisions about housing that will be in those areas for decades, if not centuries.

Integrated catchment

It will be crucial for the regulators, local government organisations and the water service entities to work together to ensure an integrated catchment approach for all infrastructure for the benefit of our communities.

Integrated catchment planning manages water resources and land use on a catchment scale.

With the increasing intensification and natural and physical constraints on land use, and the increasing demand for water, the integrated management of land use and the three waters is becoming more and more critical.

Effective integrated catchment planning and management is paramount if we are to improve water quality, reduce over-allocation, manage land change effects and reduce natural hazard risk.

There is a need for the new spatial planning legislation (the Natural and Built Environment and Spatial Planning bills) to be mindful about stormwater resilience and to taking a more co-ordinated, future focused approach to planning and development.

We need to be much more proactive through the identification of hazard areas to inform both location and the design of future developments and infrastructure and areas requiring adaptation and avoidance.

National approach

In order to plan better, we will need to increase our understanding and ensure a more consistent approach to modelling and mapping climate change and risks. How often are these storms likely to occur? How will more frequent and longer droughts affect drinking water supply? How big are they likely to get? How can we design smart, resilient infrastructure and cities to cope with them?

A consistent definition of what is a flood risk and set of national levels of service and measures for flooding will focus funding to address where shortfalls and gaps occur, help inform spatial planning and highlight adaptation priorities and retreat for the most at risk areas.

For example, across Aotearoa there are significant variations in status quo stormwater levels of service for stormwater modelling, planning design, and funding. A nationally consistent suite of levels of services and targets, which allow for local risks and costs, need to be developed and put to decision makers and our communities.

Currently, our inconsistent and haphazard approach and accountability for managing flood risk can too easily hide or overlook problems until there is a major event and we are quick to forget, when it comes to funding stormwater infrastructure shortfalls.

Accountability for stormwater management is often split across agencies or departments within agencies and consequentially can be overlooked by each organisation – until the flood event occurs. A nationally consistent approach would help clarify accountability for flood related outcomes.

Finally, we need to ensure our communities are more informed about their own flood risks.

It’s vital that flood hazard information is freely available, nationally consistent, and transparent.

We have welcomed and fully support the latest moves in the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Amendment Bill legislation to tackle this serious omission and ensure better national guidance on hazard reporting.

At present, not every land information memorandum [LIM] has information about floods and climate change hazard. Yet, this is vital information for householders and businesses.

It is concerning that many people don’t understand their flood risk and what, for instance, a one in a 100-year flood event means.

People must have information to weigh up the risks so they can make informed decisions about where they live - whether to maintain or invest in their properties or in some cases retreat.

We are facing major challenges and if we are going to be resilient in the face of climate change, a nationally-led approach to stormwater planning and management is necessary to protect public and environmental health and wellbeing.

Wellington's water woes - where to from here?

Frustration is mounting among Wellington's mayors and residents at the region's decaying water infrastructure.

Listen to Kathryn Ryan on RNZ's nine to noon programme  discuss the Wellington Water's problems with three of the region's mayors.

South Wairarapa wastewater plant compliance still an issue

Martinborough’s wastewater treatment plant remains non-compliant with resource consent conditions, a Wellington Water report reveals.

Read Article

Council staff under pressure to approve building in flood plains, expert claims

A climate risk expert from the Wellington Regional Council, says the council consent staff are coming under pressure to give the go-ahead to developments in flood risk areas.

Listen now

Thousands of birds die at important wetland, from deadly disease caused by pollution

Thousands of birds have died from avian botulism in Whangamarino wetlands due to poor water quality caused by dairy intensification and industrial runoff, prompting criticism from Fish & Game New Zealand towards the local authority for failing to protect freshwater environments. 

Read Article

New Wellington Water boss says reform must happen

Wellington Water’s new chief executive, Tonia Haskell​, has Three Waters reform on her mind.  Read the Stuff article 

Central Hawke’s Bay residents now free to drink water from taps again

After 26 days of boiled, bottled, or tank-truck-provided water, residents in Ōtāne and Waipawa can safely drink from their taps, following the removal of a boil water notice on Saturday. Read the Hawkes Bay Today story

Thousands of litres of water down the drain in Roseneath, Wellington

A leak in Roseneath is sending thousands of litres of water down the drain, according to one local resident’s estimates.

Read the DomPost report.

High resolution imagery of flood-hit areas supports cyclone recovery

New high-resolution, satellite imagery providing a birds-eye view of Cyclone Gabrielle’s impact on the North Island’s east coast is now available online as part of the emergency response. See the Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) Basemaps and LINZ Data Service online platforms.

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council says ‘no urgency’ to move flooded community

To stay or go - property owners in regions hardest hit by Cyclone Gabrielle want answers.

The Government suggested it was urgent to get them those answers - and to have the conversations about not going back, about not rebuilding, “over the next few weeks”. Read the Herald report

Fourteen exemption applications made to new water regulator

New Zealand’s water regulator has received 14 exemption applications over new drinking water standards, including one in Wellington relating to chlorine. Read the Herald article.

Waiting for rest of rural water scheme story to be unveiled

The Clutha region now knows half of the story about the future of its rural water scheme.  Read this local farmers' view.

What those affected can expect from managed retreat in flood-vulnerable areas

The Government has spent years working on plans for managed retreat, and says it will have answers for the areas that were worst affected by Gabrielle in about a month.

Read the RNZ report.

Are flood protections putting us at greater risk?

For decades, we’ve tried to fight against nature – draining swamps, building on floodplains and constructing walls to keep water at bay.

Read more

Covid-19: Whole North Island regions had no wastewater sampling due to cyclone

Whole regions have had their Covid-19 wastewater testing affected by Cyclone Gabrielle and further severe weather, causing “gaps in the data”.

Read more

Engineering innovation for a more resilient world

4 March 2022

Water New Zealand says innovative engineering solutions will be key to ensuring long term sustainable management of our water environment.

Today (March 4) is World UNESCO World Engineering Day for sustainable development.

“I want to acknowledge the vital role that engineers play in ensuring healthy safe water in Aotearoa New Zealand and across the world, says Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe.

“Engineers often work at the cutting edge of development, and particularly in water, play a key role in the sustainable management of freshwater, as well as drinking water, wastewater and stormwater.

“We know that we face enormous challenges including water scarcity, droughts, increased flooding and storms due to climate change, as well as pollution and degradation of water resources.

“We need to continue to find innovation solutions and engineers will play an increasingly vital role in helping to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

“Everyday I am inspired by the dedication and commitment of so many of our engineering members in helping to find solutions to ensure a sustainable future.

“Working in water is a great option for any engineer wanting to help make a big difference to the health and well-being of our environment and the people who live in it.”

Water leaks in Christchurch getting worse as millions of litres lost every day

Water leaks in Christchurch are continuing to grow as 38 million litres a day is lost from the city’s pipes – that’s about 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of water.

Read the Stuff report

Need for better alignment in water reform legislation

2 March 2023

Water New Zealand says there is a need for better alignment between the current water reform legislation and long term planning for water infrastructure services resilience.

Chief executive Gillian Blythe says the recent storm and flooding events indicate the urgent need for a consistent national approach to stormwater hazard modelling, smarter land use and design standards.

She told the Finance and Expenditure Committee that Water New Zealand welcomes the intent of the Water Services Legislation and Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bills which will provide incentives to invest wisely and upgrade critical water infrastructure.

However, she says there is a need for a more cohesive and coordinated approach with the Natural and Built Environments and Spatial Planning Bills.

“There is a risk that without this cohesion, the silo approach that has led to inadequate planning decisions, such as permitting building in hazard-prone areas, could continue.

“We also need to ensure that New Zealanders have the information needed to make knowledgeable decisions about investment and acceptable risk.”

She says that strong partnerships with tangata whenua are critical to ensure Te Mana o te Wai (health of the water) is embedded in integrated catchment management planning.

See our submission on  the Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill and the submission on the Water Services Legislation Bill. 

Urgent need to address infrastructure funding questions

Water New Zealand chief executive, Gillian Blythe says the urgent need to address the infrastructure deficit is one of the key issues facing three waters services in Aotearoa. In response to National's policy release, she says in order for that to be affordable, there will be a need for economies of scale and and scope.

Listen to the RNZ report

Water, water everywhere 'now is the time for technology'

Aotearoa will cope more efficiently with torrential weather such as record rainfall if it embraces technology faster, the NZ IoT Alliance executive director Alison Mackie says.  Read more

Rise in cases of bacterial disease leptospirosis could be linked to flooding

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service is warning health providers of a potential outbreak of leptospirosis, which could be linked to recent extreme weather events.

Read more

High Court rules against councils seeking ownership declaration

Three councils who sought to have their property rights declared by a court over the Three Waters reforms have had their bid rejected by the High Court.

Read more

NZ cities urgently need to become ‘spongier’ – but system change will be expensive

Two extreme and deadly weather events within the first two months of 2023 have brought the consequences of climate change into sharp focus. Perhaps not surprisingly, there is now a lot more talk about the need for “sponge cities”, with Auckland being a prime candidate.  Read the article in The Conversation

Flood hazard could soon be a compulsory part of LIMs

"Not every land information report [LIM] has information about floods and climate change hazard," ays Water New Zealand chief executive, Gillian Blythe.

"All householders and businesses want to understand that hazard information. It must be reported in a nationally consistent and transparent way."  Read the RNZ story

How to prevent building where it isn’t safe

Auckland University geologist, Associate Professor Martin Brook says if there If there is any good to come out of the storms this year it is that it will encourage local and central government planners to ensure building consent means well-informed consent.

Read his opinion article in Newsroom

Months to fix water pipes in Gisborne

Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stolz has provided an update on the city's crisis, saying "it will take months to fix our water pipes" following Cyclone Gabrielle.

Co-governance – it’s nothing like you think

Bemused by the political furore, nay fury, Newsroom's Nikki Mandow went hunting for examples of shared governance in action.

“If you want to break down Three Waters, it’s pretty simple. We want to be able to drink the water, we want to make sure the storm water is going out, and so on. And like what we are doing with Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance, it’s about thinking big, not getting into silos – this little council, this little iwi, says Alliance co-chair David Johnston.

Read the full Newsroom article

Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Wairoa, Muriwai ravaged by floods, slips; recovery and rescues in Auckland, Northland, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty

At least two people have now died and a volunteer firefighter remains missing as new aerial images reveal Cyclone Gabrielle’s deadly coast-to-coast path of destruction in the North Island, from Muriwai to Hawke’s Bay.

Read the Herald update

Whanganui River Māori offer support in Colorado River crisis talks

A delegation of Whanganui River Māori is travelling to the United States to support North American Indigenous leaders and tribes of the under-threat Colorado River.

Read the Whanganui Chronicle story 

Stormwaters run deep: Auckland councillors call for audit

As the waters recede through choked and overloaded stormwater infrastructure, debates have opened up over the city’s future pattern of development.

Read the Newsroom article

Water infrastructure investment remains critical

Water New Zealand CEO Gillian Blythe says it's vital that the focus remains firmly on the need to invest in water infrastructure. PM Chris Hipkins has said that the need for reform is unquestionable but that careful consideration is required.

Gillian told NewstalkZB's Kate Hawkesby that the longer we delay investment, the harder it will get and the more complex it will be.

Listen to the interview

Council assured dump poses little risk to Greymouth's town water supply

The Grey District Council has been assured the proximity of a dump taking asbestos and toxic material to the Greymouth water treatment plant poses little risk.  Read the Stuff article

Defining braided rivers will help avoid future disasters

Lawmakers are being urged to bridge the legal and scientific divide over braided rivers. Read this Newsroom report.

Better linking of stormwater management and land-use needed

Recently retired water engineer Jan Hejis says bad planning is the root cause of recent flooding and we need clear direction, changes in legislation and guidance to avoid further catastrophes.

Read his Newsroom OpEd 

What now for Auckland? Four ideas for a more climate resilient city

Auckland's floods may have been historic but flooding on a similar scale will strike again soon. What can Aotearoa's largest city do to prepare? Read this RNZ article where four experts share their big ideas.

Making cities more 'spongy' to cope with future deluges

Before Auckland flooded badly on Friday evening University of Auckland Urban Planning Senior Lecturer Timothy Welch wrote about the idea of 'spongy cities' to cope with increased climate change rainfall.

Listen to the RNZ interview

‘Just crazy’: Public health expert urges against swimming in contaminated floodwaters, beaches

Aucklanders are being urged to stay away from closed beaches and avoid contaminated floodwaters, as a second deluge threatens to again swamp Auckland’s hard-hit storm and wastewater network.

Read more

Chief executives for Water Services Entities confirmed

The appointment of chief executives for Entities A, B, and C marks a significant milestone in the effort to improve water services delivery for future generations. With extensive skills and experience in leading change and delivering key infrastructure projects, these industry heavyweights are set to take the helm in July 2024. 

Read more: https://www.threewaters.govt.n...

What a Waste: Getting Our Poop Sludge Out of Landfill

Australia puts 80% of its nutrient-rich 'biosolids' back onto farm land as fertiliser. In New Zealand it's just 20%. Instead, half of our sludge goes to landfill. That's changing - Three Waters could be a catalyst. 

Read the full story on Newsroom. 

Council wastewater ponds may have to be fenced

Water New Zealand says a WorkSafe order that lead to the Gore District Council erecting deer fencing around its wastewater ponds could set a standard that other councils need to take note of.

The council pleaded guilty to an amended charge laid by WorkSafe after three-year-old Lachie Jones was found dead in the Gore oxidation ponds almost four years ago.

Read the full article here. 

Water industry group warns against more delays to 3 Waters reform

Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe is under no illusions about the challenges facing Three Waters infrastructure.

NBR subscribers read the full article here. 

Concern over misuse of boil water notices

There's concern that boil water notices are being wrongly used by some water suppliers as long term solutions to water quality issues, with one town having a boil water notice in place for 28 years. Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe says smaller providers often struggle with the finance, skills and knowledge to fix issues.

See the One News story 

Smart eco-solution to reduce phosphorus in waterways

Engineers at the University of Auckland are designing way to clean phosphorus from waste water and turn it into fertiliser - a process with both environmental and financial benefits. Read more

New Zealand's wastewater-contaminated beaches a sign of what global warming could bring

As the sun comes back out across the country, "unsuitable for swimming" signs are also going out at many popular beaches. The wild weather and heavy bouts of rain have forced wastewater treatment plants to overflow - contaminating waterways and popular swimming spots. Read more

Dry summer leads to Grey District water restrictions

The Grey District water network is under significant pressure from the long spell of hot dry weather and increased demand. Read more

Wellington beaches closed to swimmers after storm

Most Wellington beaches were off-limits for swimmers on Thursday after a sewage treatment plant was forced to release wastewater due to heavy rainfall the night before.

Read more

Chlorine removal at least five years away for nearly half of Christchurch

Chlorine will not be removed from a large chunk of Christchurch’s water for at least five years, according to a new report.  Read the Stuff article.

Rotorua Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade starts

Work has started on a $60 million upgrade of the Rotorua Wastewater Treatment Plant. Read more

Water Mission to Gauge Alaskan Rivers on Front Lines of Climate Change

An upcoming Surface Water and Ocean Topography mission will provide a trove of data on Earth’s water resources, even in remote locations. Read more

Council executive who gave $7m sewage plant contract to cake decorator guilty of corruption

A former council executive who arranged for a $7 million sewage plant contract to be awarded to a cake decorator has been found guilty of corruption.

Read more

Solving One Piece of the Freshwater Restoration Puzzle at a Time

How are land managers motivated to record and report their land management actions? A new paper from the Register of Land Management Actions project identifies collective engagement, efficient farm management and social norms as key drivers.

Read more

Chlorine to remain in Selwyn water supplies for now as bid to remove it fails

Temporary chlorination will continue throughout most of Selwyn – including in Rolleston, Lincoln and Darfield – after a bid to halt it failed.

Read the Stuff report

Dozens of beaches unsafe to swim in after storms

Dozens of beaches across Auckland are currently unsafe to swim in following bouts of heavy rainfall over the past few days. Read the RNZ story

Wellington losing 27 Olympic swimming pools of water a day through leaks

About 40% of Wellington’s water supply – roughly the equivalent of 27 Olympic sized swimming pools – is being wasted each day because of 5000-plus leaks from the capital region’s pipes, according to new estimates from Wellington Water.

Read the Stuff article

Bergen – A city that celebrates its water challenges

World-leading work that has brought climate resilience to this Norwegian city where nature-based solutions have created a biodiverse and good for well-being environment, with water central to its city planning.

Read more

EPA proposes to close ‘loophole’ for reporting ‘forever chemical’ releases

In the US, the EPA is proposing to close a prior “loophole” that allowed some companies to get out of reporting their releases of certain kinds of toxic chemicals.

Read the article

New legislation to provide affordable water services for New Zealanders

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta says the two new bills introduced to Parliament following the passage of the Water Services Entities Act will help ensure affordable drinking water, wastewater and stormwater can be provided to New Zealanders now and into the future.

Read the Government media release

48 of Wellington's drinking water reservoirs are vulnerable to contamination - report

A health check of Wellington’s most important water infrastructure has found all above ground drinking water reservoirs are vulnerable to contamination.

Read more.

600,000 UK properties face surface water flood risk

A new report by the National Infrastructure Commission has found that, without action to reduce urban runoff and improve drainage, 600,000 properties in the UK face flooding.

Read more

DOC’s Community Environment Fund open

The Department of Conservation (DOC) Community Fund is now open for community conservation groups undertaking critical, grassroots work to support Aotearoa’s biodiversity strategy.

Key information:

  • The funding round opened on 9 November and closes on 31 January, 2023.
  • $9.2 million is available, comprising $7.2 million for threatened species and ecosystem projects, and $2 million for cultural heritage projects.
  • Applicants must be a community group, iwi/hapū or a private landowner.
  • Note that the eligibility criteria have changed this year. To check your eligibility for the threatened species and ecosystem funding stream, look at the “how to determine eligibility” section of the DOC website.
  • If you are unsure of your eligibility or have any queries related to the DOC Community Fund, please contact their Funds Team at

Award winning campaign to keep wipes out of pipes

A public education campaign to reduce pipe blockages caused by wipes during the first few months of Covid has picked up an award at the NSW Sustainability Awards. Read more

Is a hydrogen-powered future hiding in our wastewater?

Its first steps may have been hesitant – thanks to a funding slump following the 2008 financial crisis – but hydrogen is now back and looking like a winner for renewable, clean energy. And its success may lie in a dirty source. Read more

Smart Water initative launched

The Smart Water partnership between Hamilton City Council, Waipā District Council and Waitomo District Council aims to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of water, from the source to tap, and support schools, organisations and the community to value water and use it in an efficient way. Read more 

NZ’s groundwater still ‘widely vulnerable’ to faecal contamination'

A new analysis of national groundwater data has shown concerning trends in areas with intensive farming, where detections of harmful E. coli bacteria have been rising.

Read the Herald report

Chlorination of Selwyn water supplies to continue

Chlorine will be added to the Selwyn district's major water supplies until at least December 14 after councillors were divided on whether to immediately remove it.

Read the Star News story

Three Waters to pass through Parliament in time for Christmas

The Leader of the House, Chris Hipkins has confirmed that the Water Services Entities Bill will pass before Christmas.

Read the Newsroom article

Experts raise alarm over WHO’s PFAS limits for drinking water

More than 110 scientists and regulators worldwide are raising a public alarm over what they label “weak” PFAS drinking water limits proposed by the World Health Organization.

Read the story in the UK Guardian

Safer drinking water for rural communities

Water treatment specialist company, FILTEC, have partnered with Crown Infrastructure Partners to deliver safe, clean drinking water units to 120 rural communities across Aotearoa New Zealand over the next few years.

Find out more

Christchurch water fluoridation decision delayed until next year

A decision on fluoridating Christchurch’s water has been delayed until at least April despite calls for urgency in the face of concerns at childhood tooth decay. Read the Stuff article

Central Interceptor’s micro-Tunnel Boring Machine breaks through for third time

Watercare's micro-Tunnel Boring Machine (m-TBM) called Domenica has today (16 November) broken through to Miranda Reserve, Avondale after travelling 1212m from Dundale Ave, Blockhouse Bay as she builds the first of two branch sewers for our Central Interceptor. 

Read more

The battle over NZ’s biggest water take

NZ’s largest hydro power station wrestles with a nationally significant river – and the Environment Court.

Read the Newsroom report

Select Committee reports back on Water Services Entities Bill

The Finance and Expenditure Select Committee this afternoon reported back on the Water Services Entities Bill. See the Minister’s media release and the Select Committee report.

New Taumata Arowai CEO

Allan Prangnell as the next Chief Executive of Taumata Arowai. Allan Prangnell will replace Bill Bayfield who has taken the organisation through its establishment phase since mid-2019 and will step down from the role in January.

Read the media release

Auckland could be drinking recycled water by 2040

Watercare will investigate whether recycled water is a viable option for Auckland’s drinking water supply.

Read the Stuff article

Explained: Three Waters legislation takes another step forward

"It costs a lot of money to make sure the water you drink is safe and it costs a lot of money to ensure that when you flush the toilet or empty the water in the sink … that waste is being managed in a way that is appropriate,” says Water New Zealand CEO Gillian Blythe.

Listen to the new podcast, Stuff Explained on why we need to reform Three Waters services.

Auckland treatment plant shutdown due to contaminant

Watercare has shut down an Auckland treatment plant after finding PFAs contamination above drinking water threshold levels.

It has only just spent $2 million upgrading the Onehunga plant.

Read more

Government support for rural water suppliers

Associate Minister of Local Government Kieran McAnulty was in Eketāhuna today to announce the Government is accepting applications for a programme to support rural drinking water suppliers meet Taumata Arowai water standards.

Read the Minister's media statement

Dozens of communities at serious flood risk and unprepared - report

A government report has for the first time identified dozens of communities at serious risk of flooding and totally unprepared for it. Read the RNZ story

Ensuring safety of rural water supply Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta was at Rongopai Marae and Patutahi School near Gisborne on Friday to announce a programme aimed at helping to upgrade community water systems in high deprivation areas.

Read the Gisborne Herald story

We need to fix our water infrastructure

Speaking on TVNZ Breakfast this morning, Water New Zealand Chief Executive Gillian Blythe said it's important we get our water systems right to ensure New Zealanders have access to drinking water that is up to standard.

Watch the discussion 

Councils failing to fluoridate water correctly

A Newshub report has claimed that every single council in New Zealand that fluoridates its drinking water is failing to do so at the proper level.

Read the story

Water New Zealand Conference & Expo 2022 Highlight Video

Thank you to everyone who joined us in Ōtautahi Christchurch and helped make our major conference this year such a big success!

It certainly reflected the huge amount of enthusiasm and professionalism within the water sector and made us very proud to be your industry organisation. With more than 1000 delegates, 86 technical presentations, eight keynote and 15 thought leadership speakers not including panelists along with 236 exhibition stands with 142 companies exhibiting - there was plenty happening over the two and a half days at Te Pae.

Flush taps to protect from lead - ESR

A team from ESR has published a review of the 2021 public health response to the discovery of lead in drinking water in several small communities in North Otago.

The review was presented in a paper at the Water New Zealand Conference and Expo last week, ahead of International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (23-29 October).

Read the ESR release

Time to act is now - Nanaia Mahuta at conference

In her keynote address this week to the Water New Zealand Conference & Expo 2022, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta told the delegates that now is the time to be aspirational about what our three waters system across Aotearoa will look like as we move into the future.

Read the speech

Government seeks to offer Three Waters certainty

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has pledged to offer the Three Waters sector some certainty, acknowledging staff needed clarity and job security.

Read more

RNZ report - Water New Zealand delegates agree change needed

Delegates to this week's Water New Zealand Conference broadly agree that reform in the sector has been a long time coming.

Listen to the Morning Report item 

The Local Government Minister at Water Conference

The Local Government Minister is pushing to find common ground with new Auckland mayor Wayne Brown over the controversial three waters policy.

Read more

Water issues under the spotlight at major conference

Water issues under the spotlight at major conference

17 October 2022

Three waters reform and the need for resilience in the face of climate change are among the key topics under the spotlight at the Water New Zealand Conference and Expo 2022 which gets underway tomorrow at Te Pae in Ōtautahi Christchurch.

More than 1000 delegates are expected to attend the annual event which attracts leaders and professionals from across the water services industry and business.

Water New Zealand Chief Executive Gillian Blythe says Aotearoa New Zealand is facing some major issues around three waters reform and the need to provide safe, reliable and affordable water services.

“There are some big challenges ahead of us. We need to find an affordable way to upgrade our ageing infrastructure to meet current and future demands. We curently lose around 20 percent of the water in our national network because of leaking pipes.

“We need to become more resilient in the face of climate change and extreme weather events and we need to use water more efficiently and effectively.

“As citizens of Aotearoa New Zealand, we all want to be able to swim in our rivers, lakes and beaches so we must address issues around our sewage overflows and the unacceptably high number of wastewater treatment plants operating without resource consents or in breach of their consents.”

The conference focuses on the many innovative and exciting solutions in development, both here and internationally. Visitors to the Expo will be able to talk to exhibitors from 150 organisations about current and future technological developments.

“We’re talking about things such as generating power from wastewater, achieving net zero carbon emissions, digital technology, modelling and so on.

“But we will need to have the capacity and scale to innovate and modernise. We will also need a highly skilled workforce across a wide range of occupations.”

Keynote speakers at the conference include Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta, Gabrielle Huria, Chief Executive Te Kura Taka Pini, Taumata Arowai Chief Executive Bill Bayfield and former Attorney-General Chris Finlayson.

The conference runs over two and a half days with a pre-conference workshop beginning today. The new water services regulator, Taumata Arowai and the Department of Internal Affairs will focus on the new risk management landscape and other current issues.

See the conference programme.

Keynote and thought leadership presentations will be live-streamed for media. Please contact tel 027 202 8857 if you would like access to the live streaming or further information.

'Sobering' picture in latest marine report

Ocean acidification, rising sea levels and an increase in sea surface temperatures are part of the "sobering" picture of the current state and future prospects of Aotearoa New Zealand’s marine environment detailed in a new government report.

Read the Ministry for the Environment report

Managed retreat from the ‘parasitic’ creep of climate change

Newsroom's Nikki Mandow reports on how local government election hopefuls are largely ignorant or reluctant around the controversial topic of climate change-induced managed retreat.

Read her report

Latest trends for coastal and estuarine water quality

Stats NZ has published latest trends for coastal and estuarine water quality. It looked at 15 measures indicating ecosystem health, suitability for recreation, and suitability for shellfish/aquaculture. 

Read more

New exterior cleaning Code of Practice

A new Code of Practice has been developed to help exterior cleaners meet best practice in water management, environmental and health and safety standards.

The CoP also covers new & existing property maintenance requirements, work completion standards and best practice retrofit recommendations.

Find out more

Nitrates go under the spotlight in Canterbury

Private water supplies could come under greater scrutiny, amid concerns about nitrates in drinking water.

Read the RNZ report

Micro filtration plant fast-tracked for Timaru as costs increase

Projected costs for a plan to future-proof Timaru's drinking water supply against the growing effects of climate change could increase to as much as $30 million.

Second Tranche of Drinking Water and Wastewater Network Environmental Performance Measures

Taumata Arowai is consulting on the next phase of drinking water measures as well as the first set of wastewater measures. The first phase of the drinking water environmental performance measures were introduced in July this year.

See the consultation document.

The consultation period ends at 5.00pm on Friday, 25 November.

Te Mana o te Wai

Taumata Arowai will provide an opportunity for comment early next year on giving effect to Te Mana o te Wai and is inviting indications from anyone with an interest in being part of this work.

For further information email

New model shows increased earthquake shaking risks

The likelihood of future earthquake shaking hazard is estimated to have increased throughout most of the country, ranging from almost no change to more than doubling in some areas.

These are the latest findings following the 2022 revision of the National Seismic Hazard Model which calculates the likelihood and strength of earthquake shaking that may occur in different parts of Aotearoa New Zealand over specified time periods.

The model, led by GNS Science, is used to estimate risk and help make risk-based decisions.

Find out more

Whanganui water bottling plans slammed

A Whanganui iwi leader says a plan to extract and sell 750,000 litres a week of groundwater from a bore near the Whanganui River is stealing and confiscation.

Read more

Race to Resilience and Race to Zero Forum concludes with launch of adaptation & resilience breakthroughs and push for new era of climate regulation

  • UN Climate Change High-Level Champions launched Adaptation and Resilience Breakthroughs, which define 11 common goals to make 4 billion climate vulnerable people more resilient to climate hazards by 2030.
  • In addition, publication of a new report, The Pivot Point, co-authored with 40+ expert groups, identifying the types of rules and standards needed to shift from voluntary climate action to standardized and regulated action to enable committed companies to deliver net zero, faster.
  • First ever ‘progress report’ for the Race to Zero and Race to Resilience campaigns, providing an honest stocktake of the extent and pace of action so far.

Read the full article here. 

Citizens’ Assembly recommends direct recycled water for Auckland’s future water source

A citizens’ assembly tasked with deciding what should be Tāmaki Makaurau’s next future water source has determined direct recycled water would be the best solution to meet the city’s water needs beyond 2040.

The assembly – a group of 37 Aucklanders representative of the people of the city - based on age, gender, ethnicity, education and home ownership – presented their recommendation to our senior leadership team and board chair Margaret Devlin at Auckland University on Saturday. This follows a series of workshops in which the group explored six different options, and the implications of each.

Read the full article on the Watercare website. 

Eight Iwi and Three Councils’ Partnership Responds to Te Mana o Te Wai in Te Tauihu

Environmental managers from eight Te Tauihu iwi are co-designing a freshwater management framework with the region’s three unitary councils, supported by Our Land and Water, Implementing Te Mana o Te Wai research. The Pou Taiao (iwi environmental managers) have built a new platform for partnership, Te Puna Kōrero ki Te Tauihu, to enable multi-council collaboration to ensure the health of wai in the region is prioritised.

Read the full case study here. 

Scientists release monitoring results for 1,727 river and lake sites across New Zealand

The health of monitored freshwater sites across New Zealand and how it is changing over time has been revealed by the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) project today.

Read the full update on the Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website. 

Three Waters on the boil as local elections approach

Water management is shaping up as a major political battleground ahead of local elections next month - and the general election next year.

Opponents and councils decry the government's unpopular proposal or urge caution and delays until the details are settled - but there's little agreement on alternatives, and experts are warning time is running short.

View the full Newshub article here. 

Can Wellington's underground urban streams once again see the light?

Below our feet is a hidden world, a network of streams running through a false habitat of pipes and watercourses.

They’ve been redirected and paved over, their populations of fish and plants confined to the dark where once sun filtered through, allowing streets, footpaths and houses to be built overtop.

Put simply, Wellington’s urban streams are in trouble. About 95% of them are now piped underground, treated like drains for household waste and industrial pollution.

Almost all Wellington’s streams have no better than a C grade for water quality, according to regional council data. People don’t know their stories, or even that they exist.

View the full Stuff article here. 

Wastewater suggested as next water source for Auckland

Also known as sewage, it's the used water from sinks, washing machines, showers, baths and toilets.

The advice will be seriously considered by Watercare, which has already said it would have to have a good reason not to implement the decision.

Read the full 1news article here. 

Revealed: the ‘shocking’ levels of toxic lead in Chicago tap water

One in 20 tap water tests performed for thousands of Chicago residents found lead, a neurotoxin, at or above US government limits, according to a Guardian analysis of a City of Chicago data trove.

Read The Guardian article here.

Waterfowl return as oxidation ponds recover

Head of Three Waters, Helen Beaumont, says that with better-quality wastewater now flowing through the oxidation ponds, the health of the ponds is recovering at a faster rate and the odours are diminishing.

“This week we're excited to see that ponds 5 and 6 have reached our benchmarks for the level of dissolved oxygen and reduced organic loads, and we've be able to turn them ‘green’ on our pond health tracker on the wastewaterfire website,” Ms Beaumont says.

Read the full article on Newsline. 

Water Services Entity Establishment Boards

The Department of Internal Affairs, on behalf of the Minister of Local Government, is calling for expressions of interest for appointments to the four Water Services Entity establishment boards.

Each of the establishment boards will be accountable for transition activities. The establishment boards will provide governance oversight for their respective Water Services Establishment Entity, and be accountable to the Minister of Local Government, with oversight from the National Transition Unit within the Department of Internal Affairs.

You will find further information about how to apply, and more information about the establishment boards, skills requirements, time commitment and fees on the Department of Internal Affairs’ website at Appointments to Statutory Bodies -

To submit your expression of interest, you need to complete the expression of interest form, provide a current curriculum vitae, and a cover letter to by 5.00pm Sunday 16 October 2022. All appointments are subject to background checks. Any queries should be directed to the National Transition Unit, Three Waters Reform Programme Governance and Appointments team at the above email address.

More information about the Three Waters reforms can be found at

Three Waters - Draining debates

Three Waters is the largest local government reform in decades. But in many minds, the rollout has been muddled and mired in controversy. To "unmuddy" Three Waters, three people near to the action speak off-the-record, giving Bruce Munro their take on the reason for the reforms, whether they are a good idea and what they would do differently.

Read the Otago Daily Times article here. 

How restoring NZ’s coastal wetlands could be key in the climate change fight

For many companies, forest carbon offsets have become a way to compensate the environment for the use of its resources. Jihee Junn looks at how the establishment of wetlands, known as blue carbon offsetting, could be an even greener option.

Read more here.

Infrastructure strategy sets a course for the future

The Government has tabled its response to Te Waihanga/New Zealand Infrastructure Commission’s first infrastructure strategy.

Published in June, Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa – New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy 2022–2052 set out the infrastructure challenges and opportunities facing New Zealand over the next 30 years. Read more

'Denitrification' just a pipe dream, or a reality for Waimate council?

Waimate District Council says it has “committed” to building a denitrification plant, but numbers crunched for other Canterbury councils suggest an expensive and complicated venture.  Read more

High nitrate in water warning for Pareora township

A warning is in place for the township of Pareora after recent testing of raw water showed high nitrates, with both nitrate-nitrogen and nitrate, exceeding maximum acceptable values.  Read the Stuff article

Key steps for finance to take to tackle the growing water crisis

Financial institutions must act now to boost water security and to protect themselves from the risks created by the water crisis. Read more

Poo bug makes 80 percent of Taranaki rivers unswimmable

Ongoing contamination by a faecal bug has left just a fifth of Taranaki rivers clean enough to swim in, according to a new assessment for Taranaki Regional Council. Read the Stuff story

Porirua City Council moves forward with draft flood retreat policy

Porirua City Council is moving forward with its flood retreat policy, but how it will be financed is still uncertain. Read the RNZ story

Private well water testing in Selwyn reveals dangerously high nitrate levels

Selwyn residents on private wells turned out in high numbers at a water testing day - with some found to have dangerously high levels of nitrates.  Read more

Ngāi Tahu argues for Three Waters co-governance in Parliament

Ngāi Tahu, the iwi whose takiwā takes in most of the South Island, made a spirited defence of co-governance on Three Waters reforms, pointing out that Māori assets have historically been seized by governments - including for use as council water infrastructure.  Read more

Bill Bayfield resigns as Chief Executive of Taumata Arowai

Taumata Arowai chief executive Bill Bayfield has announced his resignation from the new regulatory authority.

He departs on 27 January.

Read Bill Bayfield's resignation announcement: 

Some of you might recall me talking about my early days at Taumata Arowai – I referred to my role during the establishment phase as being the Chief Executive of a “ghost chips” organisation.

Since then, we have successfully established a new crown entity and begun our role as the water services regulator for Aotearoa New Zealand.

It has been an honour and a privilege to be the establishment CE and then first Te Tumu Whakarae o Taumata Arowai.

The time feels right for me to take on a new challenge and the Board has accepted my decision to resign.

My last day will be 27 January 2023 – this will provide ample time for the Board and team at Taumata Arowai to find a superb replacement.

I have really enjoyed this establishment phase, great mahi that I can really believe in, a great team of initially contactors and now the permanent crew.

I have loved building the whakapapa of Taumata Arowai, this now feels like an organisation set up to deliver for New Zealand in a very New Zealand way.

I look forward to catching up with many of you over the next few months, meanwhile its business-as-usual working with water services to ensure everyone has access to safe reliable water every day.

Ngā mihi nui

Bill Bayfield

Chief Executive

Relocation should be considered for flood-prone towns - environmental engineer

An environmental engineer who helped move an entire Australian town to higher ground after catastrophic flooding says if people are at risk of repeat weather events - then relocation should be on the table.  See the RNZ  report

Water loss mystery prompts Ruapehu council to hunt for illegal takes, offer households $200 free plumbing

A district council is installing dozens of isolation valves across a water network to help solve the mystery of massive water losses. Read the Stuff article

Changes to freshwater management - Northland Regional Council

Sediment and E. coli are the two greatest threats to freshwater health throughout Northland as the deadline for implementing national policy directives to stop further degradation looms.

Read the Council report 

Plea to continue to conserve water in Nelson

Nelson has access to less than half its usual water supply, but there is enough safe drinking water if people stick to “normal usage”, the council says.

Read the Stuff article

Outstanding Three Waters reform matters

In this opinion piece Mark Odlin, a partner at law firm Buddle Finlay and a specialist in corporate and commercial law with expertise in giving advice in a local government and freshwater context, argues there are critical matters that remain outstanding in the Three Waters reform.

Read his comments

Shovel Ready upgrade 'brings pump station into the 21st century'

A structural and telemetric upgrade of two pump stations in Paeroa is the first of Waikato Regional Council’s Shovel Ready infrastructure projects to be completed. 
Read more

Fatberg alert: Wastewater system blockages cause overflows, temporary health warning issued

A temporary health warning has been put in place after sewage overspill flowed into the Mangakakahi Stream on Saturday.

It's prompted a reminder from the Rotorua Lakes Council not to put wet wipes, fat and rags down sinks drains and toilets.

Read the Rotorua Daily Post article 

New Plymouth begins installing water meters for 26,000 homes

New Plymouth has begun an $18 million project to roll out water meters to 26,000 homes in the district.  Read more

Westport community raise stormwater concerns in feedback on $54m flood plan

Westport residents have had their first opportunity to question experts about a potentially ground-breaking business case to ease severe flooding in the town over the next hundred years. Read the RNZ report

Managed retreat from flood-prone part of Whanganui recommended

Natural hazard experts are recommending a part of Whanganui be abandoned due to the ever-increasing risk of flooding, but exactly how landowners could be compensated is up in the air. Read more

Emergency drinking water delivered as nitrate levels exceed acceptable levels in rural Waimate supply

Emergency drinking water supplies have been delivered to parts of the Waimate District as measured nitrate levels have risen past the Drinking Water Standards Maximum Acceptable Value (MAV). Read the Stuff article

Dam plan on life-support seeks next jolt

Consents for a controversial Hawke’s Bay dam are set to be extended without public input, angering environmentalists.

Read the Newsroom story 

Auditor General questions WSE Bill accountability

The Auditor General has raised some concerns over the accountability arrangements and the integration of infrastructural planning in the proposed three waters entities legislation.

Read the submission to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee.

Deep dive on plastics

Last weekend, Wastebusters celebrated the end of Plastic Free July with sold-out movie screenings of For the Blue
Read the ODT report

Christchurch wastewater treatment plant repairs ahead of schedule

The work to remove fire-damaged waste material and concrete from Christchurch's burnt out wastewater treatment plant will be finished a month earlier than expected. Read the RNZ  story

The Mataura River: The tale of Southland's longest awa

Chris Dillon has no worries drinking his whiskey​ with a splash of water from the Mataura River. Read the Stuff feature on Southland's largest river

NZ’s new climate crisis plan: ‘Blueprint for more resilient communities’

For the first time Aotearoa New Zealand has a long-term strategy to deal with the effects of climate change, but the government plan leaves several key questions unanswered. Read more

Wellington facing water shortages

A report in Stuff says that the Wellington region is fast running out of water and “severe” water restrictions are “probable” over summer, Wellington Water has warned local councils in a stark report.  Read more

Pollution: 'Forever chemicals' in rainwater exceed safe levels

New research shows that rainwater in most locations on Earth contains levels of chemicals that "greatly exceed" safety levels.

Read more

Christchurch must 'do a lot more' to improve rivers, with nearly half in poor condition

The quality of Christchurch’s Ōpāwaho/Heathcote and Huritini-Halswell rivers remain poor and more needs to be done to start seeing improvements, the city council’s chief waterways ecologist says.  Read the Stuff story

Showerhead giveaway to stop too much water going down the drain

Tauranga City Council is giving away water-efficient showerheads in hopes of cutting shower times in half.

Read more

New funding for water fluoridation

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has made directions under the Health Act to 14 local authorities to add fluoride to some or all of their water supplies. It is the first time this power has been used since the relevant legislation was amended last year to ensure a national approach to fluoridating water.

Read the Ministry of Health media release 

New drinking water quality assurance rules

Taumata Arowai have published new Drinking Water Quality Assurance Rules, which set out what drinking water suppliers need to do to comply with key parts of the Drinking Water Standards and other requirements under the Water Services Act 2021. 

The new Rules come into effect on 14 November 2022.

Read more

Public health experts speak out in support of reforms

As the deadline for submissions on the Water Services Entities Bill comes to a close today, a group of eminent public health professionals have published a joint blog in support of the Three Waters reforms, saying they are are needed to protect public health and ensure changes are economically sustainable and efficient.  Read the blog

The arguments that sank water bottling consents

Why did the Court of Appeal quash consents for water bottling? Newsroom's environment editor, South Island correspondent and investigative writer, David Williams delves into the decision.

Government provides Three Waters support for councils

Every Council in New Zealand will receive at least $350,000 of additional funding to ensure they have the resourcing necessary to implement the Three Waters reforms, Associate Minister of Local Government Kieran McAnulty announced today. Read the Government media release.

Reinsurers questioning exposure

Fresh from meeting with international reinsurers, Tower CEO Blair Turnbull says they are "questioning whether they want to be down under." Read the article and listen to the podcast.

Call on Christchurch water fluoridation by end of the year

Christchurch will hear the Government’s intentions on fluoridating the city’s water supply by the end of the year. Read the Stuff article

Drought assistance to Kiribati as drinking water supplies dry up

Threats to the drinking water supplies of Kiribati from a prolonged drought are being targeted with a joint assistance package from Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia. Read more

Tenant ordered to pay damages after wet wipes clog water pump

A tenant has been ordered to pay a series of costs after wet wipes clogged a water pump at her rental. Read the Herald article.

Wellington Water independent fluoride inquiry

Wellington Water has accepted all of the recommendations from the independent inquiry into why fluoride facilities were turned off at two plants.

Read the details of the inquiry and Wellington Water's response.

Dunedin hospital could be elevated for flood risks

The new Dunedin Hospital could be built up to 2m above street level to account for flood threats, including storm surge and sea level rise.  Read the ODT story 

Nitrate risk to unborn babies to be measured in $1.2 million study of drinking water

Scientists seeking to determine whether nitrates in drinking water have an impact on unborn babies have received $1.2 million to undertake a study of 700,000 births in New Zealand. Read more

Need to do more to reduce plastic pollution in water

1 July 2022

New Zealanders are amongst the highest generators of plastic waste in the world and on top of this there is now concern about the level of microplastics in our water.

As Plastic-free July gets underway, Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe says while the recent move to ban many single-use plastics is an important step towards reducing pollution in our waterways, there is an urgent need to do much more.

She says microplastics are a growing concern.

“Plastic fragments from many household products end up being washed down our kitchen and bathroom sinks and laundry pipes, to wastewater treatment plants.

“A lot of microplastic pollution comes from everyday things such as synthetic clothing and furnishing, glitter, sponges, plastic bottles, cosmetics, cleaning products and so on.

“Wastewater treatment plants capture a significant amount of the plastic debris, but microplastic particles – less than five millimetres – often escape through the sieving process into the environment.”

“While this is a global problem, a recent study for Aotearoa New Zealand revealed that microplastics from wastewater treatment plants are a significant contributor to coastal plastic pollution.”

The study, by Canterbury University environmental scientist, Helena Ruffell, was presented at a recent Water New Zealand conference.

It looked at both the influent and effluent of microplastics in three wastewater treatment plants in Canterbury.

Gillian Blythe says that as well as ending up in the ocean environment, microplastics are also present in biosolids which end up on the land.

“The best way to stop microplastics getting into the environment is to stop plastic pollution at source. This means using less plastic.”

She says everyone can play a role by being aware and, where possible, reducing the amount of plastic we use everyday.

“There are many changes we can all make, for instance, switching to loose leaf tea instead of tea bags, avoiding synthetic fibre wherever possible and purchasing a front-loading washing machine when you replace your current one. Front loaders have been found to shed less microfibre as well as use less water.”

It’s been estimated that New Zealanders throw away an around 159 grams of plastic waste per person every day - making us one of the world’s biggest plastic polluters on a population basis.

Economic regulation - challenges and opportunities

The chief executive of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, Alan Sutherland joined a panel discussion chaired by Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe on the challenges and opportunities of economic regulation for water services in Aotearoa New Zealand.

View the discussion

Dannevirke residents warned against flushing wet wipes

Dannevirke’s sewers are feeling the strain with residents being warned against flushing non-biodegradeables down their loos. Read more

Group aims to improve water quality

The Southland Regional Forum is set to deliver its recommendations on ways to drastically improve freshwater in Southland. Read more

Narrowed Wairau River influencing aquifer recharge levels

New research suggests historic work to narrow the Wairau River could be contributing to declining levels in the recharge aquifer – one of Marlborough’s main water sources. Read more

Govt poaching council staff makes contributing to reforms harder - local govt group

Rural and provincial councils say a shortage of skilled staff is preventing them from meaningfully contributing to the raft of central government reforms.

Read the RNZ report

Rag monsters and fatbergs causing chaos in the Kaipara

Rag monsters and fatbergs are causing chaos for Kaipara District Council and costing ratepayers tens of thousands of dollars to clear up.  Read more

Reforms will provide scale for efficiency - Alan Sutherland

The chief executive of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, Alan Sutherland says larger, professional organisations allow for increased skills and capital to attract investment.  See the interview on Q and A.

Water Services (Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand) Regulations 2022

New regulations on the maximum acceptable values (MAVs) for the concentration of determinands in drinking water are set to come into force on 14 November 2022.

All drinking water suppliers must ensure that the drinking water they supply complies with the standards which are based in part on the World Health Organization Guidelines.

See the Order in Council 

Aesthetic Values for Drinking Water

The drinking water regulator, Taumata Arowa has issued updated aesthetic values for drinking water

These Aesthetic Values replace the guideline values for aesthetic determinands specified in the Drinking-water Standards for New Zealand 2005 (Revised 2018).

See the gazette notice

Water Bill passes first Reading

The Water Services Entities Bill which paves the way for the establishment of the four new regionally-based water entities passed its First Reading in Parliament yesterday.  

Read the Hansard report

Wellington due to have fluoride back in its water by September

Fluoride should be back in Wellington’s drinking water by September, months after fluoridation facilities at the capital’s water treatment plants were turned off.  
Read the Stuff article.

Council ‘gets out of the way’ of rainwater tank installation

Auckland Council plan changes will make it easier for households to install rainwater tanks by removing the costly and time-consuming consent process. Read more

Wetland exposure drafts released

The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) has released its exposure drafts of proposed changes to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPS-FM) and the Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Freshwater) Regulations 2020 (NES-F).  Read more

Female staff key to success of country’s critical infrastructure projects

1 June 2022

Critical infrastructure projects across the three waters, civil, energy, and telecommunications sectors rare facing a severe staffing shortage and women are part of the answer.

This is according to Kaarin Gaukrodger, director of Connexis, infrastructure training  provider.  “For example less than 14 percent of New Zealand’s civil construction workforce are women, and the sector’s business owners say finding skilled workers remains its biggest challenge.

“Those types of discrepancies across the country’s infrastructure sector demonstrate a clear need to promote the full range of infrastructure jobs in a way that makes them appealing to women.”

And that is the purpose of Connexis’s annual Girls with Hi-Vis® (GWHV) campaign, offering hundreds of female students the opportunity for hands-on, onsite experience of a wide variety of infrastructure jobs throughout the country.

This year GWHV has a record number of businesses wanting to be involved. Host companies include: HEB Construction, Fletcher Construction, Higgins, Downer NZ, Schick Civil Construction, Waiotahi Contractors, Civtec, Fulton Hogan, Watercare, Marlborough Lines Ltd, Citycare Water, Citycare Property, Nor West Contracting, CPB Contractors, Genesis Energy, Meridian Energy, John Fillmore Contracting Ltd and Geotechnics.  They will be holding events throughout the country in June.

Gaukrodger says the skills shortage is the biggest challenge facing not only civil, but also the energy, telecommunications and three water sectors.

“The country has a huge pipeline of infrastructure projects, predicted to require tens of thousands of additional workers over the next five years. These are projects like building and repairing major roads, upgrading water pipes, maintaining power lines and delivering faster fibre, that are essential to keeping New Zealand running.

“Without a matching pipeline of skilled workers those projects are at risk of major delays or even failure.  Women remain a largely untapped pool of potential talent for infrastructure businesses.

“By showcasing the potential of the sector to women career seekers we can build the workforce required to complete key projects, grow local infrastructure companies and contribute to the country’s strategic goals in areas like carbon emissions, sustainability and climate.”

Connexis arranges, delivers, supports, and assesses work-based learning for the infrastructure industries as a division of Te Pūkenga’s Work Based Learning subsidiary, New Zealand’s largest tertiary education provider. The sector includes energy, telecommunications and 3waters as well as civil construction.

“The high interest from businesses in this year’s Girls with Hi-Vis® indicates that the industry recognises the benefit of diversity within teams and the opportunity to address the critical skills shortage that is presented by recruiting for women,” says Gaukrodger.

“The challenge now is ensuring women are provided the opportunity to gain a clear picture of all the employment opportunities available and where that can take them in a career.”

GWHV demonstrates to young women the wide range of infrastructure jobs they can do, and build a career on – using practical skills that often involves being out in the elements.

A high number of companies participating in this year’s GWHV come from the civil construction sector. Recent data from Infometrics shows that just 13.9% of that sector’s workforce are women, compared to 46.8% nationally. Meanwhile, a 2021 Construction Industry Survey for Civil Contractors New Zealand and Teletrac Navman found 50% of civil construction business owners said generating a skilled workforce was the biggest challenge their business faced; 80% placed it in the top three challenges.

“If we are to have any hope of meeting that number we must recruit more diversity into the sector and that includes women,” Gaukrodger says.

“It’s not just about filling jobs. By actively trying to build a more diverse workforce, we are bringing in fresh perspectives that create opportunity for innovation. The infrastructure sector will need innovative thinking and new ideas as we tackle some of those ‘big picture’ challenges around sustainability and the environment.”

For a full list of Girls with Hi-Vis® events, inspirational work stories and open day information visit


Rural water supplies report released

The report from the Rural Supplies Technical Working Group has just been released. The group was set up to look into the concerns over the implications of the reforms on mixed-use rural water supplies.  Read the report and the RNZ story.

Wellington pipe price shock expected to be echoed around the country

A shock 80% increase in the cost to address Wellington’s ageing pipes is expected to be echoed around the country as councils take stock of what replacements will cost in reality.  Read the Stuff article.

Wide range of roles for iwi, hapu and whanau in water sector

Following the Water New Zealand Conference and Expo in Kirikiriroa Hamilton, Water New Zealand board member Troy Brockbank talked on Radio Waatea about the many opportunities and wide range of roles for iwi, hapu, and whanau in the water sector.  Listen to the discussion

We need to put a vital ingredient into the water – democracy

Wellington's Owhiro Bay water activist, Eugene Doyle, was one of the presenters at the Water New Zealand conference in Kirikiriroa Hamilton.  He told the audience about the need for councils and utilities to genuinely work with local communities.  Read the Stuff article

Waters industry urged to help shape final detail of Three Waters reform

Water industry players have been urged to stay closely engaged with the legislative process for enabling the controversial Three Waters reforms, which will set up four big entities to run water services.  Read more

Water conference focuses on reform challenges

A workshop focusing on the establishment of the four new water entities and the new regulatory changes kicks off the Water New Zealand Conference & Expo in Kirikiriroa Hamilton this morning.

The two-day conference also features the Minister responsible for the water reform programme, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who will be an opening keynote speaker.

Other presentations will focus on enabling mana whenua involvement as well as the proposed new economic regulatory environment.

Water New Zealand chief executive, Gillian Blythe says around 1000 delegates have registered to attend.

"Due to COVID, this is the first time in nearly two years that people from across the three waters sector have been able to get together in one place. Our Stormwater conference last week in Christchurch also attracted a very enthusiastic response.

"We all know that a lot has been happening in the water sector over the past two years and the next two years will continue to see huge change as we transition towards four new regional entities in July 2024.

"The conference is providing a great opportunity to discuss and get answers to questions around the reforms as well as other key issues such as climate change, Te Mana o te Wai, and water quality.

Land purchase to fix North Taranaki's water woes'

Old and private septic tanks seeping into waterways around Urenui and Onaero could be fixed sooner than expected after NPDC agreed to buy 41 hectares of land in the area to build a wastewater treatment plant.  Read more

Māori missing out on infrastructure

Prof Te Maire Tau, co-chair,  Te Kura Taka Pini, Ngāi Tahu Freshwater Management, told an audience at the Water New Zealand Stormwater Conference in Ōtautahi Christchurch that Māori communities have been missing out on basic water infrastructure and this has been stymying economic development.

Professor Tau was one of the keynote speakers at the conference. Listen to the interview on Radio Waatea

Auckland library living roof sets sustainable example

In the largest example on a council-owned building, Auckland Council has installed a living ‘green roof’ featuring more than 2000 plants on top of the central Auckland Library.  Read more 

Local Govt Minister gives keynote address at Stormwater Conference

Local Government minister Nanaia Mahuta has taken a moment during a Christchurch speech to “dispel some mistruths” about the controversial three waters reforms she is leading.

Mahuta gave a keynote address and hosted a short Q&A at Water New Zealand’s Stormwater conference in Christchurch on Wednesday. Read the Stuff article

Finnish city taps sewers for energy in sprint for net zero

Famed for its medieval castle and lofty cathedral, Finland's oldest city is winning admirers for a less likely attraction as it strives to be one of the world's first carbon neutral cities by 2029 - a sewage treatment plant.  Read more

Majority of Auckland rivers have high E coli levels, report finds

Over 80% of Auckland’s rivers have high levels of E coli, which could pose widespread human health risks, an expert says.

An annual Auckland Council report, covering the year 2020, tested for E coli, nitrates, metals and rainfall levels. Read the Stuff report

'Pure sewer': Stressed Christchurch community lives under the eternal stench

Residents affected by the Christchurch wastewater plant stench have a chance to air their grievances at a meeting tonight at which the Mayor and some councillors are expected to attend.

Read the Stuff report

Global credit rating agency's assessment released

The Government has released the latest Standard & Poor's assessment of the proposed new water service entities.

See the S&P report and the related Newsroom story - Ratings agency says Govt will bail out Three Waters corporations in a crisis. You can also see the Cabinet papers related to the representation, governance and accountability arrangements of the new water service entities, recently proactively released by the Department of Internal Affairs.

Water Industry Professionals Association

As members are aware, there are a number of initiatives underway relating to industry workforce development. These include, but not limited to, Water Services Act 2021 authorisation requirements, Waihanga Ara Rau’s Workforce Development Strategy, the various Water NZ Competency Frameworks, and the implementation of the Review of Vocational Education (ROVE). The water industry’s workforce is also likely to be further shaped by the 3 Water Reforms due to be implemented over the next 2 - 3 years.

Consequently, the Water Industry Professionals Association’s (WIPA) management committee has agreed for the WIPA to undertake a brief pause while the Industry as a whole goes through this period of change. During this period, training opportunities and courses will still be posted on the WIPA website and current WIPA members will still have their CPD credits acknowledged. WIPA applications already submitted will continue to be processed. However, in the short term, the WIPA will not be accepting new applications. We expect that once we have a direction of where Industry workforce is heading, that an appropriately modified WIPA will be stood up again to take on the challenge of acknowledging the skills, qualifications and experience of the people that work in the water industry.

In the meantime, we still encourage WIPA members to carry on actively undertaking professional development opportunities and continue to seek acknowledgement of those opportunities through the gaining of CPD credits.

Craig Freeman (Acting WIPA Chair),

Nick Hewer – Hewitt (WIOG Chairman)

Gillian Blythe (Water NZ CEO)

Co-governance: Time to get on with it?

The Government's been under pressure to explain what it means by co-governance in the wake of its water and health reforms. 

But as former Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Chris Finlayson explains, the concept itself is nothing new. 

Find out more on The Detail

Māori cultural sites among most vulnerable to climate change, rising sea levels

Māori cultural sites will be among the most vulnerable to climate change and rising sea levels.

Of the almost 800 marae situated across Aotearoa, 80 percent are built on low-lying coastal land or flood-prone rivers. That means many Māori burial sites and plantations or food sources will be at risk.  Read the Newshub report

Bid to impress with water work

A beefed-up programme of infrastructure planning was designed to help make the Dunedin City Council a "standout" water entity and boost the city’s chances of attracting post-reform investment. Read the ODT story.

Human waste entering Waitangi River from botched sewerage connection

For more than two years a Bay of Islands property has been flushing faeces into the Waitangi River upstream from the intake for Paihia's town water supply. Read the Northern Advocate story.

Megadroughts - how LA is transforming water use

Water restrictions imposed on residents are likely just the first of many measures cities will need to take in order to adapt to shrinking water supplies. Read more

Groundwater: the many challenges of a hidden resource

UNESCO in cooperation with UN-Water is organising a global summit on groundwater in December to raise awareness and help decisionmakers to manage this complex, invisible an often over-exploited resource.

Read more

String of Wellington Water budget requests total $35 million

A new funding request from Wellington Water is the latest in a string of budget increases over the past two months, which total $35 million.

The new request is for an additional $12.6m over the next two years, to fund escalating maintenance problems like pipes bursting. 

Read the Stuff article

New wastewater treatment plant for Wellington

new waste treatment plant, which will dramatically reduce volumes of sludge being disposed of at Wellington’s Southern Landfill, is expected to be funded through new ratepayer levies. Read the Stuff story

Three Waters: Maria Nepia - the wahine adding the Māori magic

Maria Nepia is the wahine who will ensure Māori voices will be seen and heard when the Three Waters reforms are completed and the legislation becomes law.  Read the Herald article

Wellington to introduce new performance indicators

Greater Wellington Regional Council will introduce a new key performance indicator for drinking water, following revelations fluoride was switched off without anyone knowing.    Read the Stuff article

Over a million Kiwis don't have safe drinking water

The 2020/21 drinking water report details compliance by all providers with drinking water standards.

It reveals that just 78% of the population - 3.2 million people - received drinking water that met all Health Ministry standards. Find out more

Mackenzie's water use dramatically higher than most districts

The latest report card on New Zealand’s water has been released, with the Mackenzie district standing out for all the wrong reasons.

Mackenzie’s average daily residential water use is far and away the highest of the 40 councils that provided information to Water New Zealand’s National Performance Review 2020 – 2021Read the Stuff article

Christchurch infrastructure design makes fluoridation 'cost significantly more

Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe said the number of pump stations in Christchurch meant fluoridation would be “more resource-intensive” than elsewhere. Read the Stuff article. 

Three Waters rhetoric damages council-iwi relations

A first, fragile attempt at Māori co-governance is tearing apart, as Ngāi Tahu threatens to walk away from its partnership with three of the South Island's biggest councils. Read the Newsroom report

Can we flood-proof our homes?

Forget about putting bigger pipes underground to stop a repeat of the damaging flash flooding that hit Auckland last week.  

In most cases, it wouldn’t have made a difference, says flood expert Jon Rix, the head of the water engineering team at environmental and engineering consultancy Tonkin + Taylor.  Listen to The Detail on RNZ

Springfield residents told to 'sit and wait' for fresh water supply one year on

"Our existing water supplies are facing a variety of pressures at the moment. Climate change is one of them ... we know that the West Coast is going to get wetter.... population growth is another pressure and ageing infrastructure is another." Lesley Smith, Water New Zealand .

Go to the RNZ story and listen to the Morning Report item.

Māori involvement in three waters governance is an opportunity to share knowledge, culture and expertise

Ensuring clean, equitable, affordable water services for everyone, while protecting human health and the environment, should be bottom lines for all communities. 

Read the column  by the chair of Ngāti Kahungunu iwi, Ngahiwi Tomoana, published in Stuff.

High Court rules against council on water for dairy sheds

A new High Court judgment has confirmed that it was appropriate for the Environment Court to factor in potential contamination of groundwater from dairy sheds when considering the term of a water consent.

Read this report from the Newsroom's David Williams

Urgent need to change the narrative on Three Waters

Water NZ’s latest National Performance Review is a stark reminder why we need to get beyond the politics of Three Waters reform and get on with solving our dire water infrastructure problems.

Read the Newsroom report by business editor Nikki Mandow and her discussion on RNZ's nine to noon programme.

Strategy points to need for many more skilled workers

Up to 9000 new skilled workers may be needed over the next three decades to ensure as thriving Three Waters sector in Aotearoa New Zealand.

This was highlighted in the recent Three Waters Workforce Development Strategy report released this week.  

Water New Zealand Chief Executive Gillian Blythe spoke on Morning Report about the need for a highly skilled workforce to help address the infrastructure deficit to ensure safer drinking water and a cleaner environment.

World Water Day - Groundwater, making the invisible visible

Today is World Water Day 2022 and the theme is Groundwater. Out of sight, under our feet, groundwater is a hidden treasure that enriches our lives but it is under serious stress due to over-use and other human activities on the land. 

To mark World Water Day, we have launched our new podcast series: Tāwara o te Wai - Water Talk.

In our  first episode, Water New Zealand chief executive, Gillian Blythe talks to three groundwater experts Louise Weaver from ESR, Geoff Williams from Wellington Water and Koos Wieriks from the Netherlands. 

Listen on spotify

Two thirds of rural bore samples above cancer risk level for nitrates

A rural Canterbury family has spent nearly $13,000 trying to make their drinking water safe, but their water-nitrate levels are still higher than they would like. Read the Stuff article 

NZ’s chemical monitoring slated in Commissioner’s report

The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Simon Upton says Aotearoa New Zealand only surveys ground water once in four years for pesticides, but not neonicotinoids.

There is growing global concern over neonic levels in surface water, and he has recommended further soil, groundwater and surface water monitoring in areas with neonicotinoid use to improve understanding of environmental contamination.

Read the article in Farmers' Weekly

Report puts Three Waters ownership back in community hands

Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe says one of the most important things about the three waters reform, and particularly about the latest recommendations, is the consistency they aim to provide. Read the Newsroom article

Water runs clear after $10 million project

After $10 million and three years of hard work by New Plymouth District Council (NPDC), Inglewood’s water is running clear again. Read more

Climate crisis: grim predictions in latest IPCC report

Climate change impacts in Aotearoa New Zealand are real and future risks are high, according to the latest report released today by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  Read this report in The Conversation.

Development stymied in three Christchurch suburbs because sewers can't cope

Three Christchurch suburbs face limited housing development in future because their sewerage systems are at capacity and expensive to upgrade. Read the Stuff article.

BOP river rediversion wins major award

A collaborative project to make Te Awa o Ngātoroirangi / Maketū estuary healthier for people to swim and fish in has won two ACE Awards.  Read more

New senior appointments to the Three Waters programme

23 Feb 2022

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has announced the appointment of  two new executive directors for the Three Waters reform programme.

Hamiora Bowkett (Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Te Arawa, Te Rarawa) will lead the reform programme, as set out in the Water Services Bill. He is a senior leader with 21 years’ experience across the public and private sectors.  Hamiora joins the team from Te Puni Kōkiri, where he is Deputy Secretary Strategy, Finance and Performance. Hamiora has also worked at partner and executive director level at PWC and EY.

Heather Shotter will head the National Transition Unit, responsible for establishing the four new water services entities that will deliver the three waters programme.

She joins the team from Palmerston North City Council where she is currently chief executive, and was previously executive director of the Committee for Auckland, which promotes positive social and economic development.

The DIA’s has also named the member of the Three Waters National Transition Unit Board, tasked with advising on the transition and establishment of the water services entities.  They are:

· Sir Brian Roche (chair) has direct experience in the establishment and operation of organisations. His roles over many years have created a skill base and perspective directly related to many of the complex financial, operational and policy issues associated with the successful establishment of the entities. He chairs Waka Kotahi NZTA and the COVID-19 Independent Continuous Review, Improvement and Advice Group.

· John Duncan has extensive experience in management and global financial markets, including banking and risk management. He is a Deputy Chair of Kāinga Ora and the Public Trust, and an advisor to Auckland City Council on funding, risk management, and balance sheet and capital issues.

· Fiona Mules started her career as an investment banker specialising in transactions and valuations. After a decade in the private sector, Fiona was brought in by Treasury to help establish a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) programme in New Zealand. Fiona is currently an independent director of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Lyttelton Port Company and Rural Livestock. She is also a Member of the Southern Response Earthquake Services Independent Oversight Committee for government.

· Rukumoana Schaafhausen (Ngati Haua) is a lawyer with significant governance experience. She was recently the Chair of Te Arataura, Waikato-Tainui and is currently serving across a number of Iwi, community, private and public organisations in governance roles including Contact Energy, AgResearch, Miro Berries, Te Waharoa Investments, Tindall Foundation and The Princes Trust.

· Richard Wagstaff is the President of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions (NZCTU). He was previously NZCTU Vice President and National Secretary of the Public Service Association. He is also a member of the International Labour Organisation’s Governing Body.

· Peter Winder is an experienced director, chief executive and senior manager in local and central government and the private sector. He is a Council Member and Establishment Board Member of Te Pūkenga, the Chair of Unitech and Manukau Institute of Technology. He is also a former Chief Executive of Auckland Regional Council and Local Government New Zealand.

Water Conference begins

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Taumata Arowai chief executive Bill Bayfield were the two opening keynote speakers at the Water New Zealand Conference and Expo which got underway this morning.

Part one of the conference, held online due to COVID restrictions, runs until Friday 4 March and Part Two will take place at Claudelands  in Hamilton and will be a face to face event (May 25-26). 

See the programme

International plastic pollution treaty risks being watered down

Following years of discussions, support for a global treaty to stem the tide of plastic pollution is now widespread, with 75% of UN member states backing the idea. 

See SciBlogs guest author article by Trisia Farrelly from Massey University

Water Conference underway

Water conference tackles reform and other key issues

21 February 2022

Three waters reforms, ensuring resilience and managing assets will be key topics under discussion at the Water New Zealand Conference and Expo which gets underway this week  (23 Feb-4 March).

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the annual conference has been split into two parts – online starting this week and face to face in Hamilton in May (25-26).

Water New Zealand chief executive, Gillian Blythe says the three waters are facing once in a generation changes and it is vitally important that the people working at the forefront are able to come together, scrutinise and discuss these reforms.

“The reforms provide a vital opportunity to future proof our water resources and services and ensure a healthy sustainable environment for future generations.

“Our conferences are  key events on the Three Waters calendar. It is vital that our members, who work across a wide range of areas, are able to keep up to date with the reform process and other key issues.

She says there is an enormous amount of knowledge and expertise amongst the association’s 2600 members and the conference creates the opportunity for their voices to be heard and understood.

“We are facing huge challenges, from the effects of climate change, to the need to improve the quality of our water so that we have a healthy sustainable environment for the future, through to ensuring a highly skilled, capable workforce.

“Te Mana o te Wai will underpin our work and we all need to fully understand how to give effect to this new approach.  That’s why we have been working hard to support our members in this important transition.”

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who’s leading the three waters reforms, will be speaking at the opening of the conference, followed by Bill Bayfield, chief executive of the new regulatory authority, Taumata Arowai.

Preceding the conference will be a workshop (Tuesday 22 February) run by Taumata Arowai and the Department of Internal Affairs National Transition Unit where participants will be able to discuss and unpack details of the changes with senior officials.

See the conference programme

Water feature is at the heart of new council subdivision

Palmerston North’s newest subdivision in Kelvin Grove is providing not only new sections, but an illustration of modern stormwater management.  Read the Stuff story

Tainui rejects doubling of Auckland water take from Waikato River

Waikato-Tainui is appealing a decision allowing Auckland to take 300 million litres of water from the Waikato River every year.  Read more

Erosion control needed for Havelock sewage treatment plant after floods

Emergency works are needed at Havelock's sewage treatment plant, after last year's major flood event caused significant erosion. Read the RNZ story 

Septic tank system flush with success

A collection of 45,000 septic tanks wouldn’t usually trigger excitement, but for Lizzie Johnson and her Healthy Waters team it was like winning Lotto. Read more

Aerators to deal with smell at fire-damaged wastewater plant

Several aeration machines are arriving at Christchurch's wastewater treatment plant to help combat the stench coming from the fire-damaged facility.  Read the story

Ensuring critical water supply though Omicron

Water supply businesses and organisations can now register online as a critical service if they think they will meet the criteria when we enter Phase 2 of the Government's Omicron, COVID-19 response. 

Find out more and go to the Government website.

Health warning after toxic blue-green algae found in Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere

Cantabrians are being urged to stay away from one of the most polluted lakes in the country and keep their pets from the water after the discovery of potentially toxic algae. Read the Stuff article

$350m not enough to improve Christchurch rivers, another $112m is needed

The health of Christchurch’s urban rivers will continue to worsen without a further investment of $112 million over the next decade, city leaders have been warned. Read the Stuff article

High levels of manganese confirmed as main culprit of Timaru's water discolouration

Algae that was initially thought to be the main cause of Timaru’s drinking water discolouration woes has now been ruled out as the lead culprit with high levels of manganese taking the blame.  Read the Stuff article

To mow or let it grow?

One hour of watering your lawn is the equivalent of one day of household use of water - Selwyn District Council.

Listen to Dr Bruce Burns, a plant ecologist at the University of Auckland, talking on RNZ to Kathryn Ryan.


PFAS contamination: Scientists keen to find source of pollutants in urban water systems

Longlasting pollutants linked to health scares overseas have been found in this country's urban water systems for the first time.  Read the RNZ story

Tauranga pig farmer facing jail time over illegal harbour earthworks for makeshift 'park'

A Tauranga man who tried to use construction waste to build a makeshift ‘park’ into Tauranga Harbour is facing a stint in jail.  Read the Stuff article

Need for appropriate economic regulatory model

We want to address the infrastructure deficit, we want to improve compliance with drinking water rules. And we want to improve the environmental performance of wastewater and stormwater - Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe. Read the Newsroom article 

Toxic algae warnings across the region from Kāpiti to Hutt Valley and Wairarapa

Warm weather and low river flows have created the perfect conditions for toxic algae to flourish, with new warnings issued across the region. Read more

Auckland urged to act as 'good citizens' of the Waikato River as water take doubles

Auckland mayor Phil Goff​ says he’s determined to reduce his city’s reliance on the Waikato River, with the recycling of waste water into drinking water an option.  Watercare has been granted approval to double its water take from the Waikato River despite opposition from Hamilton, the Waikato River Authority and river iwi.

Read the Stuff article

Water New Zealand's Insights and Sustainability Advisor Lesley Smith says purifying wastewater for reuse is something that could be considered to diversify water sources.

She says in New Zealand wastewater is recycled and used on golf courses or in  horticulture use but not for drinking water.

"It's recycled into drinking water in places such as Singapore.  If there are pressures on water supply, like New Zealand is starting to see, it's important to value fresh water and reusing wastewater is part of that.

Algae likely to be growing problem due to climate change - Noel Roberts

Timaru has had discoloured drinking water for close to a month that the council believes is caused by a non-toxic cyanobacteria, or algae, in the secondary water source.

Water New Zealand technical manager Noel Roberts says algae may become more of a problem in the future due to climate change.

Read the RNZ story

Toxic algae possibly widespread in Southland rivers

Environment Southland’s latest monitoring has found high levels of toxic algae at the Aparima River at Otautau.

Read more

Council staff work to reduce stink from fire-damaged wastewater plant

City council staff are still working to reduce offensive smells coming from Christchurch’s fire-damaged wastewater treatment plant. Read the Stuff article

The global war against plastics

An estimated 11 million metric tons of plastic enter our oceans each year. That’s a garbage truck and a half of plastic every minute of every day.  Read this update from Gordon Campbell about the enormous global challenge to reduce plastic pollution.


Calls grow for rāhui to have greater legal recognition

A group representing 80 iwi is calling for greater legal recognition of rāhui, similar to Covid-19 restrictions, to prevent people from ignoring them. Read the TVNZ story

Govt seeks feedback on National Environmental Standard for Sources of Human Drinking Water

Associate Minister for the Environment Kiri Allan is urging all New Zealanders to give feedback on proposed changes aimed at making drinking water safer.

Read the Minister's media release.

Palmerston North gears up for $496m wastewater upgrade

The city is gearing up to have the most modern wastewater treatment system in New Zealand.

Read the Stuff article

Climate emergency - water sector needs to be part of the solution

Emissions reduction needs to be a critical part of the Three Waters future.

Water NZ CEO Gillian Blythe says that while mitigation and adaptation to climate change is vital, the reforms provide a much-needed opportunity to pave the way for real action to reduce emissions.

Read more

Government offers concessions to councils in Three Waters reforms

The Government has offered major concessions in water reforms, that will make new water corporations accountable to even the smallest councils.  Read the Newsroom report and the exposure draft of the new Water Services  Entities Bill.

Close to 60 people hospitalised from 2016 Havelock North gastro outbreak, study finds

More people than previously reported were hospitalised as a result of the 2016 campylobacter outbreak in Havelock North, a new study has found. Read the Stuff report 

Waitarere Beach off limits due to stinky stormwater

Horizons Regional Council environmental monitoring scientist Kelly Le Quesne said the situation has highlighted the need to ensure all public no-swimming notices were widely and promptly circulated.

Read the Horowhenua Chronicle report

Extreme weather event project

Thanks to funding from MBIE, researchers from five organisations — MetService, Niwa, Bodeker Scientific, Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Canterbury — have begun a New Zealand project called Extreme Weather Event Real-time Attribution Machine (EWERAM).  Read the ODT editorial

Bad smells from Christchurch's fire-ravaged wastewater plant to continue for years

Bad smells reminiscent of the 1970s and 80s will continue seeping out of Christchurch’s fire-damaged wastewater treatment plant for years to come, the city council says. Read the Stuff article.

E-Clean bioreactor could hold answer to clean waterways

A low-cost water filtration system that uses a collection of bacteria to remove nitrates, phosphates and E. coli may be the answer to cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Read more

New Zealand tops new study testing for designer drugs in wastewater

New Zealand has topped an international study of traces of illegal designer drugs in wastewater during last year's peak summer holiday period break. Read the Herald story. 

Time for NZ to act on ‘forever chemicals’

There's another public health emergency and it revolves around 'forever chemicals' found in many things commonly used in everyday life and linked to serious health concerns, writes Lokesh Padhye of the University of Auckland.  Read the Newsroom article

Community groups gather data to revitalise Waimatā River

The Waimatā Catchment Group, research teams and community members discussed ideas on revitalising the Waimatā River.

Two community hui were held earlier this year and themes such as mātauranga-based projects (Māori knowledge), education, stopping river pollutants, planting and pest control were recognised as areas that needed to be worked on.

Read the Gisborne Herald story

Climate change made flooding in Canterbury more severe - researchers

Researchers studying the effects of climate change on severe weather events in New Zealand have found that the extreme rainfall that brought flooding to Canterbury in May was 10 to 15 per cent more intense as a result of human influence on the climate system.  Read the Stuff story 

Mauri model decisionmaking framework

Mihi mai ki a Dr Te Kīpa Kēpa Morgan, a professional engineer, who’s inspiring a different value system that he says can help humanity thrive and safeguard the sustainability of our planet.  Read more

Christchurch's water could still be chlorinated even with an exemption

Chlorine could still remain in Christchurch’s water supply even if the city manages to gain an exemption from a new law mandating the disinfectant.  Read the Stuff story

Forum behind efforts to clean up Manawatū River nets river health award

A decade-long mission to clean up one of New Zealand’s sickest waterways has led to top honours.

The Manawatū River Leaders' Forum won the supreme award for catchment with most progress towards improved river health at the Cawthron New Zealand River Awards on Thursday.  Read the Stuff report.

$6.9m cost increase for Lake Dunstan water scheme

Construction of the Lake Dunstan Water treatment plant and bore field is projected to cost $6.9 million more than originally forecast. Read the ODT story

Water Asset Management Forum 2021

The need to encourage behaviour change, prioritisation and understanding the importance of strong infrastructure strategies were some of the key topics under discussion at last week’s Water Asset Management Forum in Wellington. 

The joint Water New Zealand/IPWEA New Zealand event attracted up to 70 participants – both online as well as those who took the opportunity to meet in person. 

Other current topics facing the sector included an open session on Three Waters Reform, economic regulation as well as how the concept of Te Mana o te Wai will help support improvements in water quality and managing water assets. 

Taumata Arowai to take a "phased in approach"

Taumata Arowai Chief Executive Bill Bayfield says the new regulator will work closely with the water sector to lift performance.

It will take a "phased-in approach, with focus in the first year on those suppliers currently registered with the Ministry of Health".  Read more

New era in safer drinking water

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.”

Reforms provide opportunities for Matauranga Māori

One of the Maori representatives on the Three Waters working group says that the reform process provides an opportunity to improve water quality and council relationships through concepts such as Matauranga Māori.

Ngahiwi Tomoana Ngaati Kahungunu representing the rohe ‘C’ discusses the challenges on Waatea News

Working group to ensure local voice in Three Waters reform

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the establishment of a working group made up of local government and iwi representatives to recommend strengthened governance and accountability arrangements for the Three Waters Reform Programme. Read the Minister's media release

Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Bill passes final reading in Parliament

A bill transferring control of water fluoridation from local councils to the director-general of health has passed its final reading in Parliament. Read the RNZ report

Nitrate contamination may cause 40 NZ deaths a year - study

Up to 100 cases of bowel cancer, and 41 deaths, may be caused by nitrate-contaminated drinking water each year - with around 800,000 Kiwis exposed to levels that international studies deem a risk, new research finds. Read the Herald article. Read the Herald story.

Homegrown poo-eating bugs that will make wastewater treatment greener

n the bowels of the Māngere Wastewater Treatment Plant, a team of engineers diligently grow small poo-eating organisms which will help pave the way to a greener future. Read the Stuff article.

Water industry joins forces in global call for investment to tackle process emissions

5 November 2021

Water industry joins forces in global call for investment to tackle process emissions

  • Governments called upon to support the water sector in going further and faster to reduce emissions from processing wastewater.
  • Boosting investment in research would accelerate the sector’s transition to net zero.

5 November, Glasgow: Water industry trade bodies around the world have joined forces in a call for investment to tackle the emissions associated with processing wastewater.

Process emissions occur when wastewater is treated before returning it to the environment, producing several by-products including the potent greenhouse gases nitrous oxide, biomethane and carbon dioxide.

Water UK, EurEau, the US Water Alliance, the Water Services Association of Australia, and Water New Zealand call for Governments and the global water industry to commit to working together to tackle process emissions, which constitute around half of the water sector’s total emissions.

By working together, Governments can help to secure long-term funding to enable water companies to go further and faster in reducing processing emissions.

Supporting the call to action are:

  • Water UK
  • US Water Alliance
  • Water Services Association of Australia
  • Water New Zealand
  • Danish Water and Wastewater Association (DANVA)
  • EurEau
  • UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR)
  • Global Water Research Coalition
  • Mott MacDonald
  • Jacobs
  • Royal HaskoningDHV
  • Cobalt Water Global
  • Unisense
  • Professor Jason Ren, Paul Busch Award Winner on Water GHG emission Research, Princeton University

The group are also committed to establishing:

  1. 1. a research directory to help accelerate the sector’s global efforts to reduce nitrous oxide and methane emissions
  2. 2. a global forum to share research conclusions and collaborate on future activity to expedite the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

Christine McGourty, CEO of Water UK, said:

“The water sector cannot play its full part in net zero without the reduction of emissions from processing wastewater. Governments around the world need to concentrate their efforts on one of the great challenges of our time, emulating the success of wind power, enabling a step change of technology at systems-scale.

Developing and investing in the best solutions will also unlock new materials for the circular economy, and help others decarbonise.”

Mami Hara, CEO of the US Water Alliance, said:

In addressing the climate crisis, we all win or we all lose. As the global water community accelerates climate mitigation efforts, we must continue to come together to share critical information and innovative strategies on how best to do so.

In 2021, we launched a national Imagination Team with 36 diverse representatives creating a shared vision and pathway for greenhouse gas reductions across the US water sector. It is so exciting seeing water stakeholders step up to be part of the climate solution. Process emissions remain a significant challenge, and we’re proud to collaborate across the globe on this important area and ensure a more equitable, sustainable future for all.”

Adam Lovell, Executive Director of the Water Services Association of Australia, said:

“We know that fugitive emissions from wastewater processing is one of the significant challenges ahead – if we can all work together and play our part, we can meet this challenge, with typical water industry perseverance and innovation.”

Lesley Smith, Insights and Sustainability Advisor, Water New Zealand said:

“Wastewater process emissions can be a large proportion of emissions controlled by public sector organisations, many of whom have set ambitious climate reduction targets. The drivers are in place. What is missing is the science. With a better understanding of these emissions sources, this is an area we can make real gains in emissions reduction.

Ultimately, we need to transition from a wastewater to resource recovery mindset. The shift has the potential to transform our wastewater assets from net greenhouse gas producers to carbon sinks, enabling a range of broader environmental gains.”

Oliver Loebel, Secretary General, EurEau, said:

The European water sector is making significant efforts to reduce its emissions footprint. Nitrous oxide (N2O) - one of the by-products of wastewater treatment - for example, has a greater global warming potential than methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2). We need to identify the mitigation measures that we can implement which will have the most impact, and prioritise these.

Our government leaders should need to focus on climate neutrality and not only on energy neutrality. By doing so, a balance is needed between energy efficiency and renewable energy generation on the one hand and reducing N2O and methane emissions on the other. This is crucial to ensure that the benefits of energy efficiency are not reduced by large-scale emissions of N2O and methane from i.e. energy recovery.

We need committed investment in infrastructure and innovation to realise our zero GHG emission goal and potential contribution our sector can make to a sustainable, affordable future for us all. 

Carl-Emil Larsen, CEO of DANVA, Danish Water and Wastewater Association

The Danish Ministry of Environment and the Danish water companies have jointly stated a goal for an energy- and climate neutral water sector in 2030.

Furthermore there is a political agreement from the Danish Parliament, that all wastewater treatment plants (WWTP)   above 30.000 PE must reduce their NO2 emission with 50 % starting from 2025. A new report about CH4-emission from biogas plants situated on the WWTP shows, that the emission is 5 times higher than earlier expected. Therefore is it very important for us as well as the global water sector, that we get new tools and technology for reducing our GHG-emissions.

Steve Kaye, CEO of UK Water Industry Research, said:

Our recent research has shown that it is not easy to remedy this situation based on existing research. There are wide ranges in emission estimates, and very few field-based studies on which to base any revised emissions factors. We need to address this global knowledge gap by generating robust emission data for individual wastewater treatment processes to enable appropriate control measures to be identified.

Maria Manidaki, Global Technical Lead for Net Zero at Mott MacDonald and co-author of the Water UK 2030 Net Zero Routemap, said:

“Process emissions from wastewater operations, mainly methane and nitrous oxide, are one of the sector’s biggest decarbonisation challenges around the world. Exploiting novel treatment technologies, digital tools and improving operational responses will have a role in cutting these. However, to make informed investment decisions we first need to understand the source of these emissions, their magnitude and seasonal characteristics before we can adequately mitigate them. Immediate investment in mass monitoring systems would help the water sector unlock the necessary science and accelerate efforts to a net zero transition in the most cost-effective way.”

Amanda Lake, Head of Process, Water Europe, Jacobs, said:

“Process emissions are the largest source of carbon emissions from the urban water cycle as we decarbonise electricity. If we focus on asset health and process optimisation, and trial innovative modelling and circular economy treatment processes, we will find we have practical solutions to monitor and mitigate methane and nitrous oxide today. There is much to learn from around the world. It is exciting – and necessary – and we must do it together, now.”

Ellen van Voorthuizen, Lead Consultant Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Royal HaskoningDHV said:

“The water sector does play a vital role in the daily life of many people as they are responsible for water and wastewater services. To full fill this responsibility in the future, the sector wants to step up and reach Net Zero Carbon in 2030”.

Patrick Decker, CEO of Xylem said:

“We believe technology solutions and partnerships will be key to address the climate change mitigation and adaptation challenges the water sector faces. As a trusted global water technology provider we look to partner with utilities, industrial users of water and others to ensure we are advancing the most innovative technologies and effectively reduce emissions associated with processing wastewater. Together, the water sector will serve as example of accelerated and effective transition to net zero.”

Jose Porro, CEO of Cobalt Water Global, said:

“We have the knowledge and tools to start addressing water sector process emissions today, so it is now our responsibility to immediately start taking action.”



US Water Alliance

The US Water Alliance is a national organization advancing policies and programs that build a sustainable and equitable water future for all. Our network of over 150 members is transforming the way our nation views, values, and manages water.

Our Climate Action Through One Water Initiative unites diverse interests in the water sector, including utilities, consulting firms, local government agencies, environmental organizations, community partners, and social practice artists, to address the climate crisis and foster equitable solutions through adaptation, resilience, and mitigation strategies.

As part of this initiative, the Alliance is leading a sector-wide team in an Imagination Challenge to set goals for climate mitigation through water and identify strategic paths to get there, including how to address process emissions. A second phase of this work will kick off in 2022 working with water and wastewater utilities in the US to implement these strategies.

Water New Zealand

Water New Zealand has been working to support wastewater service providers to determine their greenhouse gas emissions. To this end we have developed guidance on determining wastewater emissions and begun benchmarking greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater.

The guide is available to be purchased at this link: Carbon Accounting Guidelines for Wastewater Treatment: CH4 and N2O

A link to a free webinar outlining content of the guide and subsequent questions flowing from their development is available here:

The guidelines have been developed our Climate Change Group, a network or New Zealand water professionals who have formed to ensure the New Zealand water sector plays its part in adapting and limiting the worst impacts of climate change. We are now developing researcher partnerships to further knowledge gaps identified in our guideline, and welcome further collaboration with the international community to this end.

UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR)

UKWIR has been working on several UK based projects on process emissions. The latest is on quantifying and reducing direct greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater treatment processes in the UK and Ireland. This will help address the knowledge gaps in actual emissions from wastewater treatment processes used in the UK and Ireland and identify potential measurement, reporting and control measures. Essentially it will be a `proof of concept’ trial that can be widened to further validate a new approach for water and wastewater companies to adopt.

Professor Jason Ren, Paul Busch Award Winner on Water GHG emission Research, Princeton University

Dr. Z. Jason Ren is the winner of the 2021 Paul L. Busch Award from the Water Research Foundation (WRF). With the $100,000 research prize, Dr. Ren will develop an inventory and digital tools to easily measure and track greenhouse gas emissions from the wastewater sector. A video explaining his award can be found here:

Dr. Ren is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment at Princeton University in New Jersey. He is a leading expert on the water-energy nexus and has received notable recognitions, including the 2020 Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize from the American Society of Civil Engineers for “producing groundbreaking technological advancements that are transforming water infrastructure for energy and resource recovery.”

Dr. Ren’s proposed research articulates an actionable approach to modernize wastewater treatment toward decarbonization and digitization. He understands the critical needs of the water and wastewater sectors in developing greenhouse gas (GHG) emission monitoring and mitigation programs, considering the sector’s commitment to energy efficiency and GHG emission reductions. Dr. Ren plans to leverage state-of-the-art sensing technologies to measure emissions from specific sites, and then use machine learning (ML) tools to derive industry trends from the new data. Dr. Ren was selected because of his novel, data-driven approach to quantifying emissions, and the tools and web applications he plans to create to make that data usable by water utilities looking to manage the emissions from their facilities.

Mott MacDonald

Mott MacDonald is a US$2bn engineering, management and development consultancy whose purpose is to improve society by considering social outcomes in everything they do; relentlessly focusing on excellence and digital innovation, transforming our clients' businesses, our communities and employee opportunities. Responding to climate change is embedded in its work, core to its operations and projects. The consultancy looks at everything through a climate lens, and seeks out new and more effective solutions to the climate challenge.

Its strong global water team works closely with clients across the water sector value chain shape and implement their decarbonisation plans. Mott MacDonald’s work on process emissions ranges from supporting the development of the New Zealand wastewater emissions guidelines to its involvement in developing the Water UK 2030 Net Zero Routemap and supports individual water utilities with their decarbonisation plans.

In the absence of monitoring information, Mott MacDonald is helping clients assess the range of process emissions and delivering solutions to manage those through the use of digital tools and novel wastewater treatment technologies. The consultancy has a long track record in implementing solutions for effective biosolids management and resource recovery and has also been working closely with supply chain partners to explore more agile ways for monitoring process emissions in wastewater treatment.

Mikkel Holmen Andersen, Chief Technology Officer of Unisense said:

Today, nitrous oxide process emissions from wastewater treatment are by far the biggest scope 1 water sector challenge. There is massive talent and engineering power in the water sector but to tackle the problem, we need governments to provide funds and incentives to decouple ‘return of investment’ from process emission mitigation technologies unless we induce regulations and carbon taxes on process emissions.

Royal HaskoningDHV

Royal HaskoningDHV has been involved in the research on greenhouse gas emissions from wastewater treatment plants since 2008 in the Netherlands. Based on these research activities we see opportunities to reduce the emission of methane and nitrous oxide straight away via:

  • · Capturing the emitted methane from sludge storage tanks after sludge digestion and valorize the methane in a sustainable energy source.
  • · A robust design and operation of the wastewater treatment plant to avoid high levels of nitrous oxide emission and in the meantime sustain or even improve the effluent quality.

Cobalt Water Global

Cobalt Water Global is providing AI and machine learning platform to mitigate N2O emissions from wastewater treatment works. Implementing their approach, they have reduced up to 70 percent of the total process emissions from just making smart process adjustments.  They have launched the We Can Stop N2O Emissions Challenge with an interim goal of reducing 25k tons of CO2e by next Climate Week NYC and are giving free access to their platform for the first five to join the challenge by the end of COP26.

Full list of signatories includes:

  • Water UK
  • US Water Alliance
  • Water Services Association of Australia
  • Water New Zealand
  • EurEau
  • Danish Water and Wastewater Association (DANVA)
  • UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR)
  • Global Water Research Coalition
  • Mott MacDonald
  • Jacobs
  • Royal HaskoningDHV
  • Cobalt Water Global
  • Unisense
  • Professor Jason Ren, Paul Busch Award Winner on Water GHG emission Research, Princeton University

For more information contact:

  • · Delyth Bowen on or +44 (0) 7557 018446
  • · Isabella Wilson on or +44 (0) 7342 882946

Water industry trade bodies around the world have joined forces in a call for investment to tackle the emissions associated with processing wastewater.  

Minister explains water reforms

After "two decades of kicking the can down the road", the Government is proposing a quantum shift in the way water services are to be delivered.

Local Government Minister, Nanaia Mahuta told RNZ's Kathryn Ryan why the Government has decided to embark on the Three Waters reforms.  Listen here.

How producing milk turned a lake bright orange

In the latest in the series of This is How it Ends, Stuff focuses on how intensive agriculture, fertilisers and nitrates as well as poor storm and wastewater infrastructure is destroying the health of our lakes and waterways.

This Is How It Ends: 'We take staggering amounts from our waterways'

Braided rivers are a defining feature of the Canterbury landscape. But they are polluted, drained, and drying out, leaving the banks of one littered with the corpses and skeletons of endangered native fish. Andrea Vance and Iain McGregor investigate for Stuff’s This Is How It Ends series.

Wellington Water launches independent review into wastewater treatment operations

Wellington Water has launched an independent review of its wastewater treatment operations. Read the Stuff article.

Environment Southland won't yet release monitoring report on Tiwai Point

Environment Southland won’t yet release the latest report on the Tiwai Point smelter, but an earlier report found 83 per cent of groundwater samples exceeded guidelines within the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards and Environment Southland groundwater rules. Read the Stuff article.

Constructed wetland documentary released

Whakaora Te Ahuriri - A Wetland for Te Waihora has been shown for the first time at the International Wetlands Conference (Intecol).  See more

Coastal flooding 'likely to be main driver for adaptation'

New NIWA-led research shows increasing flood risk is going to be what leads people to make changes to adapt to sea-level rise. Read more

Exhibition celebrates the Ngāi Tahu relationship with wetlands

Precious taonga that were used by Māori to fish and catch whitebait are on display as part of an exhibition celebrating the relationship Ngāi Tahu has with wetlands.  Read the RNZ story

Mayors discuss reform challenges

Several mayors from around the country have spoken about the challenges Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta faces in getting local councillors' support for the Three Waters reforms.  Newsroom's Jonathan Milne has been looking at the issues.

Changes to status quo required

Addressing the huge deficit in water investment while ensuring that there is adequate community voice to future water services are key issues facing the government as it reviews the councils' responses to its reform proposals. Water NZ CEO Gillian Blythe discusses the next steps on Magic Talk radio.  

Putting water into four entities

Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe talks to NewstalkZB's Mike Hosking about how we can improve water services, whilst remaining affordable and giving customers and ratepayers confidence their voice will be heard. Listen to the interview.

D-Day for councils to respond to three waters plan

Friday was D-day for councils to consider the government's Three Waters proposal and to give their feedback.

Listen to Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe explain the reforms on RNZ's Morning Report.

Bill to transform drinking water safety passes

The Government today passed legislation that it says will transform drinking water safety and improve environmental outcomes for wastewater and stormwater networks.

The Water Services Act moves the regulation of water standards from the Ministry of Health to Taumata Arowai which has the legal authority to carry out duties as New Zealand’s dedicated water regulator.

Press release: New Zealand Government

Letter to Minister Mahuta from Water New Zealand, IPWEA NZ and ACE in relation to the three waters reform

A joint letter from Water New Zealand, Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia – New Zealand and Association of Consulting and Engineering to Minister Mahuta expressing our continued support for investment in the three waters and the high level and shared objectives which the Government and Local Government New Zealand agree underpin the Three Waters Reform Programme.

View Letter 

We're 10,000 miles apart, but on water we're closer than we think

The chief executive of the Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS), Alan Sutherland, explains how economic and water quality regulation along with structural reform, has benefitted Scotland. Read more

Water Services Bill passes second reading

The legislation that will allow Taumata Arowai to administer the regulatory framework for water services has passed its second reading in Parliament.  Read the Hansard report.

Water New Zealand Conference & Expo 2021 - Further postponement

Message from Water New Zealand's CEO

Water New Zealand Conference and Expo will now take place 7-9 December 2021

Due to COVID-19 we have further postponed our conference until Tuesday 7 to Thursday 9 December 2021 with the Taumata Arowai and Department of Internal Affairs pre-conference workshop on Monday 6 December.

Over the past three weeks since I last updated you, we have been closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation. It has become clear that we are unlikely to reach Alert Level One in time to have our conference as planned in October.

However, we are very fortunate to have been able to secure these new dates in December and are optimistic that we will be able to bring you a safe face to face conference. If groups of more than 100 are still not possible at that time, we have an extended back-up date in February 2022.

Our events team has been working behind the scenes to ensure exhibitors and sponsors have all been notified. If you are registered to attend this conference, your registration automatically moves to the new dates, and as per the last postponement, please get in touch directly with your accommodation and travel providers about rescheduling your travel dates. If you are one of our programme speakers, your presentation time and day will remain the same but reflecting the December dates.

Thank you for coming on this journey with us. I sincerely hope we can bring you the Water New Zealand Conference & Expo before the end of the year. If you have any further questions or concerns please contact Avenues Event Management at

Ngā Mihi Nui
Gillian Blythe
Water New Zealand CEO

Palmerston North moves to lessen wastewater discharge to Manawatū River

Palmerston North City Council has decided to pursue an option that includes a combination of river and land disposal for future discharge of the city's wastewater. Read more

Wellington Water committee considers 30-year plan

The chair of the Wellington Water Committee, Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry, said there is alignment across the six shareholding councils of Wellington Water on what needs to be done to meet the region’s challenges in water services over the next 30 years.  Read more

Mahuta says opposition to Three Waters reform is 'curious'

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has defended the Three Waters reform saying the reforms will allow for jobs in local communities as well as provide for growth and greater cost-efficiency.  See the interview on TVNZ's Q and A.

Māori Language Week 2021 – Ngā momo Kaimahi Whakapai Wai

Waiora Aotearoa (Water New Zealand) is proud to once again tautoko (to support) Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week), 13-19 Mahuru (September) 2021.

In recent years Waiora Aotearoa has helped to celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Māori in a number of ways including producing a poster that can be put on your walls, or above your desks. This year we are focusing our poster on our workforce and jobs in the industry.

Take a look at our poster and have a go at using the te Reo Māori naming equivalent of your job title during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. If you don’t find your job title on the Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 2021 – Ngā momo Kaimahi Whakapai Wai poster, feel free to do some rangahau (research) and kia kaha ake (give it a go).

Once you have determined your te reo Māori job title, kōrero atu (say it). Share it with your colleagues, friends, whānau and ask them he aha tō mahi (what their jobs are).

We at Waiora Aotearoa are keen to hear your te reo Māori job titles, so please feel free to share them with us via social media using the hashtag #Heahatōmahi and by tagging @waternewzealand. Also don’t forget to use the official Te Wiki o te Reo Māori hashtag #KiaKahaTeReoMāori.

Looking forward, we are going to need to almost double our water workforce over the next 30 years. That’s as many as 9000 new jobs and many new skills will be also needed. It’s one of the reasons that our work around workforce, skills, and competency has become a key part of what Waiora Aotearoa does.

We also know that many of our jobs will be at the frontline, in delivery, and in our regions because there is a real connection between what we, as tāngata (people) of Aotearoa, do in the three waters sector – stormwater, wastewater and drinking water – to ensure that our freshwater, our awa and moana, and therefore our people, remain healthy.

The poster is available for printing and sharing.

Water Services Bill SOP released

The Government has released a Supplementary Order Paper for the Water Services Bill.

Here are the links to the draft legislation. Supplementary Order Paper No 62 (released 03 September 2021) Contents – New Zealand Legislation Supplementary Order Paper No 6...

Covid 19 coronavirus: ESR study confirms the power of wastewater testing

A new ESR-led study suggests regular wastewater testing for Covid-19 – now being done across the country to guide our Delta outbreak response – could prove a nifty early warning system to pick up future flare-ups.

Read this report from the Herald's science reporter, Jamie Morton.

Water New Zealand Conference & Expo 2021 - Conference Postponed

Message from Water New Zealand's CEO
Water New Zealand Conference and Expo 2021 - COVID-19 response

Last week I indicated that we were monitoring Government announcements closely with regards to the current COVID-19 community cases. Today we have postponed this year’s Water New Zealand Conference and Expo until Tuesday 19 - Thursday 21 October, given it is extremely unlikely that COVID-19 Alert Level 1 will be nationwide by our original September dates.

The pre-conference workshop is now scheduled to take place on Monday 18 October.

We understand that this will cause considerable inconvenience and we appreciate your patience in these uncertain times. We are doing everything we can to ensure a smooth transition to the new dates. Our conference team will be in touch with sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and delegates to expedite this. If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch with them at or 04 473 8044.

Our priority is to ensure we have a safe and successful face to face experience and we look forward to meeting all our sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and delegates in Hamilton in October.

Looking ahead, if groups of more than 100 are still not possible in October, we have another back up date early next year.

We look forward to bringing you a safe and stimulating conference with more than 90 presentations and 180 exhibition stands.

Again, I would like to thank everyone for your support and hard work, especially our Technical Committee which has reviewed 166 abstracts and is in the process of marking papers received by the deadline.

The Water New Zealand AGM will go ahead on Wednesday 22 September. It will be held via Zoom.

Ngā Mihi Nui

Gillian Blythe

Water New Zealand CEO

Water New Zealand Conference & Expo 2021

We look forward to bringing you a safe face to face experience in Hamilton.  However, in order for gatherings of more than 100 to take place, New Zealand will need to be at Alert Level 1.

We are monitoring the Government’s announcements and will be in a position to provide an update of our specific plans  by Tuesday 31 August.  Should we need to postpone our conference we will ensure that our exhibitors and delegates are informed as soon as possible

We appreciate your patience in these uncertain times.

For more information

Auckland's juggling act to supply water

A look at options for Auckland water supply in light of forecast drier conditions. 

Read this report
from Stuff's Auckland Affairs journalist Todd Niall

Split views on Water Services Bill

Rural groups are at odds over the merits of new rule