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Drinking Water

Drinking Water Assessment Unit, Auckland (DWAU)

The availability of safe drinking-water for all New Zealanders is a fundamental requirement for public health. To achieve a high standard of drinking-water quality and management in New Zealand the DWAU works to promote the understanding and application of the principles of public health safety by water suppliers and the general public.

The DWAU serves as a regulatory body that assesses water supply compliance with the Health Act 1956, as amended by the Health (Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2007 and Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand (DWSNZ). DWAU also carries out Water Safety Plan assessments, provides advice and information on drinking water supplies, investigates public health problems arising from drinking water, responds to drinking water transgressions, maintains a drinking water monitoring and surveillance system (WINZ), and promotes public knowledge on drinking water safety and quality. These programmes are designed to optimise the safety and quality of all drinking water available for public consumption in the Auckland region.

DWAU Description

The DWAU has been established for assessment of the performance of drinking water suppliers, with respect to compliance with the Health Act 1956 and subsequent amendments, and the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand.

Drinking Water Assessors (DWAs) are accredited to function in accordance with International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) ISO / IEC 17020. All DWAs either within the Unit or as may be subcontracted by the Unit are qualified and experienced Health Protection Officers, who also hold the Diploma in Drinking Water Assessment.

The Register of Community Drinking-Water Supplies

The Register of Community Drinking-Water Supplies in New Zealand (the Register) lists over 2000 community drinking-water supplies in New Zealand. For each supply, the source of water, the drinking-water treatment plants where water is treated and the distribution zones are listed, together with any public health gradings (for supplies serving more than 500 people) that have been given and contaminants of public health concern (Priority 2 determinants) known to be present.

View the Register of Community Drinking-Water Supplies in New Zealand.

Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand (DWSNZ)

The Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand (DWSNZ) set the criteria for assessing the quality and safety of community drinking water supplies. The standards prescribe Maximum Acceptable Values (MAVs) for determinants of public health significance and provide a yardstick against which drinking-water quality is measured. They also specify monitoring requirements, laboratory competence and remedial measures to be taken in the event of the standards being breached.

Plumboslovency Fact Sheet (PDF, 13.42KB) 

Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality Management for New Zealand 2013

The Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality Management for New Zealand complement the Drinking-water Standards for New Zealand 2005 (revised 2008) and provide more detailed information on the public health management of drinking-water and the properties of drinking-water determinants of public health aspects of drinking-water to water supply personnel, health personnel and the general public.

Copies are available in all public libraries or from the Ministry of Health website.

Public Health Risk Management Plans (PHRMPs)/Water Safety Plans (WSPs)

Prior to 2001, public health management of supplies relied largely on monitoring the quality of the water produced by individual water suppliers to check that it complied with the DWSNZ. While monitoring is always important, PHRMPs for drinking-water supplies provide the additional benefit of reducing the likelihood of contaminants entering supplies in the first place. Also, by the time monitoring shows that contaminants are present, something has already gone wrong and a hazard is already present in the water. PHRMPs encourage the use of risk-management principles during treatment and distribution so that monitoring is not the only water quality management technique used thereby further reducing the risk of contamination.

The Ministry of Health makes PHRMP guides available on its website.

For small water suppliers (< 500 populations) please also see Drinking Water Assistance Programme (DWAP) below.


The purpose of the public health grading of community drinking-water supplies is to provide a public statement of the extent to which a community drinking-water supply achieves and can ensure a consistently safe and wholesome product. This is determined by the extent to which a community drinking-water supply conforms to the DWSNZ and whether adequate barriers to potential contamination are in place to minimise risk to public health. The DWSNZ sets out the minimum requirements for safe drinking-water, while the grading (and the PHRMPs) provide further assurance that safe drinking-water can be achieved consistently. The grade for supplies serving over 500 people can be found on The Register of Community Drinking-Water Supplies.

Grading explanatory notes and grading forms can be found on the HealthEd website.

Annual Review of Drinking-Water Quality in New Zealand

The Annual Review of Drinking-Water Quality in New Zealand provides a public statement of the extent to which a community water supply complies with the requirements of the current Drinking-Water Standards for New Zealand. The Annual Report complements the public health grading of drinking-water supplies by providing an annual statement of whether an individual drinking-water supply complies with the chemical and microbiological quality requirements of the DWSNZ. This information is more up to date than that provided by the grading.

The Ministry of Health has more information on the Annual Review on its website.

Surveillance Programme

Surveillance of small water supplies is carried out by Health Protection Officers (HPOs). One of the main aims of the programme is to provide public health advice to water suppliers as to how they could better manage and operate their supplies. For some supplies, water sampling is carried out as part of the surveillance visit. 
On occasion, demand driven sampling is carried out to investigate suspected pollution events and disease outbreaks.

Drinking Water Assistance Programme (DWAP)

Safe drinking-water is a necessity for people’s health. Many small rural New Zealand communities do not have access to drinking-water that is shown to be safe. To assist small communities, the Ministry of Health has set up a Drinking Water Assistance Programme (DWAP).

The DWAP is made up of two components, a Technical Assistance Programme (TAP) and a Capital Assistance Programme (CAP). The TAP is free of charge, and offers advice to suppliers on the operation, management and upgrading of their supplies. Assistance is also provided to help water suppliers write a Public Health Risk Management Plan. If this programmes shows that capital development is needed, suppliers can then apply to the Ministry of Health for funding via the CAP. Small water supplies servicing a population of up to 5,000 may be eligible to apply for funding.

Find out more about the Drinking Water Assistance Programme.

If you are interested in participating in the DWAP, please contact the DWAP Facilitator in the Drinking Water Assessment Unit – Auckland on (09) 623 4600.

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