Operating a privately owned community-based water supply

If you are operating a community-based small networked drinking water supply you should have a copy of the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand and the Health (Drinking Water Amendment) Act 1956.

The Standards set out the requirements needed for supplies based on the number of users and other criteria. Not-with-standing the requirements set out in the Standards, as managers of a supply you need to be aware that both the Health Act 1956 and Building Act 2004 require that all water for human consumption be safe and/or potable.

At a consumer level also be aware that the disease risk posed by contaminated water is particularly high for the very young and the old. While the Standards require the issue of a Boil Water Notice under certain circumstances, this only offers protection for drinking purposes and that exposure is still present whilst showering, bathing or cleaning salad vegetables for example. Your best ‘protection’ as a supplier, where the water supply does not receive treatment of any kind, is to keep your customers well informed as to the risks and the measures needed to mitigate that risk.

For those communities without a treated supply (eg chlorination) also remember that if commercial premises such as food shops are operating they need to have a potable supply regardless. So there is an economic imperative for communities to consider whether or not to leave that obligation to the business owner or to provide treatment across the community.

Some basics for a safe water supply (chlorination only)

  • Source water quality: Should be better than 260 Ecoli/100 ml with good clarity.
  • Source intake protection: Prevent direct storm or surface water ingress to intake area.
  • Fence source and intake area to prevent stock fouling.
  • Source water treatment (Chlorination): Test chlorine levels (FAC) and ensure chlorine delivery system is functioning correctly at all times.
  • Source water control: Turn off the supply when the supply is compromised by flooding or some other event.
  • Customers: Keep them advised of changes and advise them on how to deal with risk.
  • Know where you 'fit' in respect to the Standards

The following link provides some information on Water Supply protection and installation issues for smaller supplies.