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Remote Water Supplies Survey

Significant changes have been proposed for how three waters - drinking water, wastewater and stormwater - are provided and regulated across New Zealand.

Central Government has launched the Three Waters Reform Programme – a three-year programme to reform three waters within New Zealand which will impact the way water supplies are managed, regulated and delivered.

At the same time, the new drinking water regulator, Taumata Arowai, is considering how small suppliers ensure drinking water safety.

The below information, and survey are to help us work with you, to make sure that we are in a good position to meet the requirements of the new regulations.


In 2016, there was a devastating Campylobacter outbreak in Havelock North, with over 5000 people sick, and three deaths. Many people ended up with long term health consequences. Although Havelock North was one of New Zealand’s worst water-related outbreaks, it was one of many. ESR have estimated that there are 40 – 50 outbreaks of disease each year, related to poor quality water. Following the recommendations from the inquiry into Havelock North, drinking water regulations in New Zealand are changing, with a much greater focus on drinking water safety. Mackenzie District Council is now acting to ensure that drinking water in the region is safe. This work is happening ahead of proposed law changes, whereby those who supply drinking water to others may need to take any actions necessary to ensure that the water is safe.

The focus of the Remote Water Supplies Survey is on “small suppliers”, these being properties that access their own water source (not town supply) and who supply drinking water to other dwellings from that source. Additionally, schools, cafes, lodges, campsites, batches and marae, who supply water to a number of people fall into this category.

A problem for Mackenzie District Council is that there is limited information about small suppliers. The council are trying to identify these, in preparation for the new regulations that will come into force, so that property owners are prepared and can be assisted. The Council will also assess whether there would be merit in joining some of these ‘off-grid’ supply areas onto a reticulated network.

This is separate to the “Three Waters Reforms”, and regardless of the outcome of discussions on the reforms, these changes will happen. Further details on this project, as well as the Three Waters reforms are on the Mackenzie District Council 3 Waters 'Lets Talk' page.

What do you need to know and do?

It is important to understand that drinking water quality is affected by many things and can change rapidly, even if it has always been safe in the past. When drinking water is contaminated, for example it is contaminated by increased runoff picking up harmful microbes in sudden storm events, people can get very sick. Havelock North was a clear example of this, with contamination occurring due to a major rainfall event flushing faecal matter from sheep into the supply.

Under the proposed new national legislation everyone who supplies drinking water to others will be responsible for keeping them safe. It is not just about your own health, but that of the people you supply as well. There is no option to “opt out” of the regulations, and Council want to help suppliers to understand their obligations and work with them to find solutions.

To keep you informed, an online webinar is being held at 5.30pm on Tuesday 28 September.

The survey is linked below, and will help you to understand the information we need.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for further information. If you have any questions, contact us at info@mackenzie.govt.nz or on 0800 685 8514. We're here to help.

We are committed to working with our community to find solutions to the new rules.

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