Water Services Act 2021

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Legal article from Blackman Spargo Rural Law
Published on 21/07/2021
The Water Services Act 2021 (“Water Act”) came into force on 1 November 2021.  Its purpose is to ensure safe drinking water for all New Zealanders.

It is common for a bore to supply multiple farms and houses, either through water agreements, or easements.  The Water Act applies to these arrangements.

A person who supplies drinking water has new obligations to ensure quality and quantity of drinking water to those they are supplying water to.  You are a drinking water supplier if you supply water to another household, have long-term control of the land with the water infrastructure (e.g. long-term lease), or have control over the decisions of the infrastructure or management.

If you supply drinking water, you must ensure:
  1. All drinking water supplied is safe;
  2. You comply with the drinking water standards;
  3. You register as a supplier;
  4. You protect against backflow;
  5. You have a drinking water safety plan;
  6. You notify the correct entities if the water is an imminent risk;
  7. You comply with Taumata Arowai requirements; and
  8. You keep records.

If you were registered under the Ministry of Health, you will already be registered with Taumata Arowai.  If you are not registered, you must register before November 2025.  Any new supply must be registered when it is created.

There are penalties for failing to register as a drinking water supplier and for other breaches of the Water Act.

The Water Services (Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand) Regulations 2022 come into force on 14 November 2022.  The regulations have acceptable values of microbiological, inorganic, organic and radiological determinands (properties of water that affect the quality and quantity of water).  Currently, registered suppliers have until 1 January 2023 to comply with these reporting requirements.

If you are completing a new subdivision that would make you a water supplier, you should consider the option of going off-grid and relying on rainwater.  Otherwise, your easement terms need to be considered carefully before they are registered.

If you have any questions, please contact us on 07 343 9393 or admin@rurallaw.co.nz.


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