Private drinking water supplies

Owners of private drinking water supplies are responsible for maintaining, monitoring, and treating their own supply.

Your responsibilities Upcoming national changes Arsenic and other chemicals in groundwater

Your responsibilities as a private supplier

There are a number of resources available to help suppliers understand their responsibilities under the Health (Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2007 and the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand 2005 (Revised 2018).     We've provided a link to these below.   

Water suppliers must ensure that the drinking water is safe to drink and is within the Maximum Acceptable Values (MAVs) specified in the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand 2005 (revised 2018).  This must be demonstrated through regular  testing by an accredited laboratory. 

A list of accredited testing laboratories is available below.   The laboratory can provide  advice on  a standard testing suite suitable for drinking water compliance. It is recommended that the water is tested for microbial and chemical determinands, including metals such as lead and arsenic.   As arsenic is known to occur in the local geology of our district we strongly recommend that you request the laboratory to add this test in to your monitoring, as it may not be included in the standard suite.   

If your drinking water returns any results exceeding the Drinking Water Standards MAV, stop drinking the water and contact Public Health South and ask for the on-call Health Protection Officer for further advice.   The number to call is  03 474 0999.

Upcoming national changes

The Government is reviewing how to improve the regulation and supply arrangements of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater (three waters) to better support New Zealand’s prosperity, health, safety and environment.  This will result in changes to the definition and responsibilities of private water supplies.  

Information on upcoming national changes to water supply regulation can be found below. 

Arsenic and other chemicals in groundwater

Arsenic is a naturally occurring chemical element, present at low levels in all soil, water, plants, animals and foods. The main way people are exposed to arsenic is through the small amounts of this element that are naturally present in food and drinking water. High and chronic exposure to arsenic can be harmful to human health.

Arsenic in groundwater can originate from human and natural sources.  Elevated arsenic levels can occur naturally in groundwater due to the presence of specific materials in the geology of the aquifer. However, the release of arsenic from those materials can happen in a specific area without happening throughout the rest of the aquifer system. The level of arsenic may also be different in each ground or surface water source and may change over time.    It is therefore important to regularly test your water. 

Naturally occurring arsenic has been detected in areas of Otago, including the Queenstown Lakes District.   This is not unique to Otago and  has been reported from other areas of New Zealand (e.g. Hawke’s Bay, Waikato, Manawatu, Marlborough, Canterbury) and internationally.   This reinforces the need to regularly monitor your supply.  

When a new water source is being considered,  the water must be tested to ensure that the water is potable before resources are invested in developing the supply for drinking and sanitation purposes. 

Routine testing 

Groundwater bore sources used for drinking water and sanitation purposes should be routinely tested for metals such as arsenic and lead, as well as other parameters, in order to ensure that the requirements of the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand 2005 (revised 2018) are met.

Further information is available on the ORC website, including a list of suggested sample parameters and information on how to improve your bore security.   

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