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Rural Supplies Technical Working Group recommendations

The Rural Supplies Technical Working Group has presented its report to the Department of Internal Affairs.

31 May 2022

The Rural Supplies Technical Working Group has presented its report to the Department of Internal Affairs. The group made 30 recommendations to ensure rural communities’ unique drinking water needs are recognised in the Government’s Three Waters model. 

The Working Group report confirms private rural supplies will be unaffected by service delivery reform, which only applies to supplies that are council-owned. 

“Our Working Group is made up of rural representatives and we all understand how different we are to urban centres. We’ve got a group of people that bring a grassroots perspective and pragmatic approach to the concerns being raised within the sector,” said Working Group Chair Bryan Cadogan.

“We recognise that rural drinking water schemes often provide water for farming as well as for people to drink. We also recognise that rural people have just as much right to safe water as urban people – but it’s not one size fits all. We’ve listened carefully to the concerns of rural communities.” 

There are two types of rural drinking water schemes. Privately owned rural drinking water schemes are not included in Three Waters reform but they are captured by the new regulatory regime led by Taumata Arowai. However, council-owned rural drinking water schemes are affected by both Three Waters reform and the new regulatory regime. There are about 100 of these council-owned schemes in New Zealand. 

The Water Services Act 2021 requires all drinking water suppliers, other than domestic self-suppliers, to provide safe drinking water and meet drinking water standards. This is to ensure all communities receive safe drinking water, no matter where they live or who supplies this service.

“While everyone recognises the importance of safe drinking water, our working group realises that there is concern in the community about complying with the new regulatory regime,” says Bryan Cadogan.

The 30 recommendations made by the Rural Technical Working Group are currently being considered by Cabinet and decisions will be announced shortly.