The passing today of the Taumata Arowai – the Water Services Regulator Bill draws a further line under the Havelock North tragedy and will lead to safer and sustainable drinking water for all New Zealanders.
“In 2016 more than 5000 people in Havelock North got sick as a result of drinking public water supplies. Up to four people died. Many more had long-term illnesses from the campylobacter outbreak,’’ said Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.
“This is inexcusable in a developed country such as ours, and our Government has acted decisively to minimise the risks of such events happening in future.’’
The Government Inquiry into Havelock North Drinking Water concluded there were systemic failings in the existing regulatory framework for drinking water and recommended that a dedicated water regulator be formed.
Accordingly, the Taumata Arowai – the Water Services Regulator Act creates a new regulatory body to oversee, administer and enforce a new and strengthened drinking water regulatory system. It will also have a national oversight role to improve the environmental performance of storm water and wastewater networks.
As a new standalone Crown agent, Taumata Arowai will have:
· a dedicated, sustained focus on drinking water safety, with the mana to recruit highly skilled individuals;
· an appropriate degree of independence for dealing with highly technical matters, with a significant emphasis on compliance and enforcement; and
· sufficient independence to protect the integrity of its decision making.
The name Taumata Arowai is intended to set an expectation that the authority of this new national regulator will maintain a level of vigilance about the health and wellbeing of our waters infrastructure. This relates strongly to the aspirations of the recognition of Te Mana o Te Wai in the new organisation.
“The establishment of Taumata Arowai will go a long way to ensuring that New Zealanders throughout the country, and our visitors, can have confidence that when they turn on the tap, the water is safe to drink.
“People also need to be able to swim in our rivers and lakes or go to the beach and collect kai moana without fear of getting sick. This new regulator is a great step forward for the future wellbeing of all New Zealanders,” says Nanaia Mahuta.
Media Contact: Chris Harrington (021) 941 865