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.
Protozoa such as cryptosporidium and giardia can be spread through drinking water supplies. That is why it is a requirement of the Water Services Act 2021 (the Act) and the Drinking Water Quality Assurance Rules (the Rules) that suppliers must use a multi-barrier approach to managing risks and protect drinking water supplies from contamination.
No single barrier is effective against all sources of contamination – for example, chlorine is a highly effective treatment against bacteria and viruses but is not effective against protozoa. That is why it is critical that a multi-barrier approach is used.
Head of Regulatory, Steve Taylor said that last week the regulator wrote to all council, government, and private supplies that share the same characteristics as the Queenstown supply and asked that they update their information to ensure it was accurate and up to date.
This release of information is about council supplies. Councils are responsible for providing drinking water to around 83% of the population.
“Now that we have assessed the information provided, we have identified 27 council suppliers across Aotearoa that have drinking water treatment plants that should have a protozoa barrier in place, but have told us that they don’t,” says Taylor.
The total population potentially affected by those 84 drinking water supplies that lack a protozoa barrier is 310,290 people.
“This afternoon, we have written to those 27 councils telling them we expect them to have a confirmed and funded plan agreed by 30 June next year”.
That timeframe fits in with the next annual budgeting cycle for councils across the country. It allows a short period of time to make sure the plan is right for the type of supply, while also setting a clear deadline so that communities know when a barrier will be in place.
Because of the higher risk posed by surface water supplies, we have indicated that we expect protozoa barriers to be in place by the following dates:for surface water sources - installation and operation of a protozoa barrier completed by no later than 31 December 2024.for bore water sources - installation and operation completed by no later than 31 December 2025.
“In our letter, we have clearly set out our expectation - that drinking water suppliers must meet the legislative requirements of the Act and continue to provide safe drinking water to their communities.”
“We are considering what regulatory action is required should suppliers not respond satisfactorily within the timelines set out in our letter.”
“Shortly we will be writing to council and government suppliers we have identified without other required forms of treatment, such as residual disinfection in the distribution network, to set out our expectations of compliance for these matters,” says Mr Taylor.
Drinking water suppliers have a duty of care to provide safe drinking water. We expect them to provide assurance to their communities that they are adequately managing any risks associated with the drinking water they supply. This includes ensuring appropriate treatment and monitoring is in place and actively managing all risks associated with the source water and drinking water supply.
If you are worried about your drinking water, you should contact your supplier in the first instance. You can find out who your drinking water supplier is on the Public Register of Drinking Water Supplies.VIEW: The full list of councils and supplies without a protozoa barrier.