Drinking Water

Information for private drinking-water supply owners in Taranaki

This information is for people who have a private drinking-water supply, are not connected to a council, or town, reticulated supply and who may be concerned about their water quality.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I find out what supply I am connected to?
If you’re not sure if your home is connected to a council or town supply contact your local Council. Your home may be on an individual household drinking-water supply or a private supply. If you are in a rental property you could also contact your landlord to find out where the water comes from.

If I am not connected to a council supply, who is responsible for it?
The owner of the supply is responsible for ensuring the water is safe to drink. Owners of individual household supplies and private supplies have a responsibility to provide safe (potable) drinking-water as described in the Building Act 2004 and its amendments. For more information click here.

Is my water supply at risk?
If you are worried about your own supply it is recommended that you read the advice and information provided in the Ministry of Health information booklets listed below. These are designed to help people who aren’t on council, or town, reticulated supply ensure their water is safe. You could also arrange to have your water supply tested.

Where can I get my water supply tested?
For the contact details of Ministry of Health recognised water testing laboratory in Taranaki click here. A laboratory representative will give you instructions on where to go, how to take water samples and how much testing will cost. The laboratory will also provide you with containers for the samples and can provide advice on water analysis and interpretation.

What do I do if E. coli is detected in my water supply?
You should take immediate action to protect people drinking/using this water by treating the water or using an alternative safe supply. You will need to identify what has caused the contamination then correct it and conduct follow-up clearance sampling.

For your information we have attached our ‘Guidelines for responding to a drinking-water contamination event (or transgression)’. You can also contact the Taranaki District Health Board on-call Health Protection Officer on 06 753 7798 for further information and advice.


Guidelines for Responding to a Drinking-water Contamination Event (or transgression)

Drinking-water contamination

There are a number of early warning signs that may indicate the drinking-water has become contaminated:

  • E. coli detected in routine monitoring of the drinking-water supply. The laboratory will report this as E. coli ‘present’ or E. coli at levels or 1 or more and this indicates that faecal (poo) contamination has been found in the sample. The detection of E. coli can mean that pathogenic (disease causing) organisms (such as cryptosporidium and giardia) may also be present. These organisms have the potential to cause waterborne illness with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Complaints or observations of an unusual taste, smell or colour in the water.
  • Reports of illness that may be linked to the water supply.
Take immediate action to protect people using or drinking the water

It is important to act quickly before the contamination makes people sick. To make the water fit for human consumption (while the source of contamination is being found and corrected) it is important that the water be disinfected. This can be done by chlorination or boiling. Using another source of safe (potable) water, for example bottled water, may also be considered.

Drinking-water storage tanks can be manually chlorinated using household bleach. Refer to Appendix II and III of these guidelines for information on recommended dosing levels.

Boil water for one minute. This may not always be practical (for example for wash hand basins at schools where water may be consumed or drinking-water fountains) therefore chlorination is our recommended method of treatment.

Use an alternative drinking-water supply
Stored water that has become contaminated can be replaced with water from a safe (potable) source (for example registered water carrier or a potable back up supply). Alternatively it may be best that bought bottled water is provided or people at the facility bring their own drinking-water from home until safe water can be provided again.

Identify what has caused the contamination then correct it

Depending on the water supply the following may assist you identify the contamination cause:

  • Check that nothing has entered the storage tank(s) and that these are securely covered. Consider how something came to enter the tank(s) for example do over hanging trees need to be cut back? Have people accessed the tank and tampered with it?
  • Check to see if the storage tank(s) needs cleaning – is there large amount of sludge at the bottom of the tank? When was the tank(s) last cleaned? We recommend that tanks are inspected annually and cleaned if necessary.
  • Ground water: Ensure the bore-head is sealed, secure and is protected from surface runoff/animals/vandalism.
  • Surface water: Check the stream and surrounding catchment for anything that may have contributed to contamination i.e. dead animal in the stream, farm animals have accessed the catchment area.
  • Roof water: Check to see if the roof and guttering system need cleaning. Are there overhanging trees that need to be cut back from the roof/guttering area? Is the first flush diverter blocked?
  • Check the entire water supply system for leaking or broken pipes.
  • Using the manufacturer’s instructions and your maintenance contractor (if applicable), ensure the treatment system is operating properly.

Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand – Responding to an E.coli transgression

Links to Ministry of Health information booklets:

Other useful links:

Last updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2019

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