For your information and interest, the finalised Annual Report on Drinking-Water Quality 2016-2017 was published on the Ministry of Health's website on 28 June 2018. This Report is the latest in a series of annual reports there were first published in 1994. It replaces the draft version that was published in February 2018. A copy of the report can be found at: https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/annual-report-drinking-water-quality-2016-2017
The Annual Report on Drinking-water Quality 2016-2017describes the drinking-water quality of all registered networked drinking-water supplies that served populations of more than 100 people. It describes how these supplies met the requirements of the Drinking-water Standards for New Zealand 2005 (revised 2008)and the Health Act 1956 from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017 covering approximately 3,815,000 people. The Report show that:
- 3,669,000 people (96.2 percent) received drinking-water that met the bacteriological Standards.
- 3,170,000 people (83.1 percent) received drinking-water which met the protozoal Standards.
- 3,708,000 people (97.2 percent) received drinking-water which met the chemical Standards.
- Overall, 81.1 percent of New Zealanders (3,094,000 people) on these supplies received drinking-water that met all requirements of the Standards.
By way of background ad context, in 1995 the Ministry of Health set a target of 95 percent compliance with bacterial and chemical Standards by drinking-water supplies serving over 500 people. Since then compliance rates have changed by small amounts each year but overall water suppliers serving more than 100 people exceed the 95 percent target.
Prompt remedial action also needs to be taken by drinking-water suppliers in the event that monitoring reveals contamination of the water as pathogens can rapidly cause illness. The Report shows that remedial action was taken in all but 27 supplies (serving approximately 0.6 percent of the report population or 22,200 people) and these 27 supplies now have systems are in place for follow up.
Water safety plans are developed and implemented by drinking-water suppliers to identify what risks may exist for a water supply and what action to take if anything does go wrong. The Report shows that over 97.8 percent (3,731,000 of the report population) received water from supplies that had started to implement a water safety plan.
Other initiatives to raise overall compliance with the Standards include:
- The Director-General of Health issued a formal statement under section 69ZZZC of the Health Act 1956 reminding water suppliers of their statutory responsibilities under the Act and recommended water suppliers reconsider reliance on ‘secure bores’ and warned that the public risk was increased if drinking-water is untreated. The Director-General has also written to DHB CEOs asking them to encourage council (and private water supplier) CEOs to disinfect any non-disinfected water supplies.
- Establishing an Drinking-water Advisory Committee with expertise across a range of disciplines to assess changes to the drinking-water system.
- District Health Board public health units continuing to support drinking-water suppliers to achieve consistent compliance.
- Supporting small water suppliers serving disadvantaged communities to upgrade their supplies using Government funding. While the subsidy scheme was closed to new applicants in 2015, technical assistance continues to be available through the DHB public health units.
- Reviewing the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand.
- Updating the water safety plan framework.
- Improving guidance on compliance and enforcement for statutory officers
- Maintaining a national database of drinking-water quality information
- Updating the Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality Management in New Zealand on a continuous basis.
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