Are you a small water supplier?

As many people are increasingly aware, if you own or operate a water supply that is being used as drinking water by people outside your home (e.g., a farm property with multiple dwellings supplied by a single source), you are a drinking water supplier and will have responsibilities to meet the new rules under the Water Services Act 2021.

You must also comply with any directions or compliance orders issued in relation to their drinking water.  If you fail to comply, you will be liable for an offence under the Act.

This can all sound a bit daunting, but what does it actually mean for small suppliers? Previously you wouldn’t have been concerned about being a small supplier, but now there are rules. The first thing is that all people who supply water to others have a duty of care to supply safe drinking water, whether or not they are registered. The first step in the transition process is to register as a small supplier through the new drinking water regulator, Taumata Arowai.

However, wait! There is no rush, and in fact, Taumata Arowai are so busy that they are asking new suppliers to hold off and not register right now. You have plenty of time, unregistered supplies have up to November 2025 to register, and then up to November 2028 to fully comply with the Water Services Act, phew.

So, what do the changing rules mean?

That depends on whether you can fit into one of the three “Acceptable Solutions”. These are ready made options designed to provide straightforward solutions for small water suppliers to meet compliance obligations. Provided the identified criteria can be met, suppliers can opt to follow these simplified pathways. The current acceptable solutions include solutions for suppliers who supply roof water, supply bore/spring water, or are a small rural supplier (supplying 50% or more of the water for agricultural needs, and the rest for domestic supply). If you can’t fit into one of these solutions, you need to follow the Drinking Water Assurance Rules. These rules are set out in relation to the number of people that will use the water supply, with complexity levels increasing as the supply size increases. For example, monitoring frequency and treatment levels (such as the inclusion of chlorination) increases with supply size.

The main things to consider for small suppliers is protection of the source itself, ensuring a reliable distribution system with backflow prevention, end point treatment (UV systems, each disinfecting water going into three buildings), taking initial samples, and then ongoing sampling. The sampling is important! It will be both before and after treatment, with three-monthly sampling for some parameters and yearly or three yearly for others.

It can feel a bit overwhelming, but there are some relatively simple solutions. Ask if you need help working out what to do and how to do it.

For more information

Christchurch: +64 3 964 6521
Ashburton: +64 3 307 6680
Hastings: +64 6 873 404
Cromwell: +64 27 457 0415

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