Safe H2O

What are my Legal Obligations for water tank cleaning in New Zealand?

Taumata Arowai is the new Water Services Regulator for Aotearoa New Zealand which came into force in November 2021.  

They are committed to ensuring all communities have access to safe and reliable drinking water every day and also have an oversight role in relation to the environmental performance of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater networks. Guidance and Resources – Taumata Arowai 

In Section 6 of the Water Services Act, it says “drinking water means water that is used for human consumption, or oral hygiene or preparing food and drink, washing utensils that are used for eating and drinking, or for preparing, serving, or storing food or drink for human consumption.” 

The new Water Services Act 2021 clarifies the definitions of ‘safe’ and ‘potable’ water means: 

  1. It is safe to drink, and 

  2. It complies with the Drinking Water Standards for New Zealand 2022. 

The actual legal obligation to clean your water tank, depends on the type of property involved – read on to find out the regulations for your situation. 

Private dwelling 

In your own private dwelling you are responsible for your own water supply and there is no legal obligation to meet any minimum standard of care.  The recommendation to clean at least every two years is our expert guidance for you and your family.  We also recommend filtration. 

Landlord – single dwelling 

You have a legal responsibility to provide potable water to your tenants. Rainwater is considered potable. However, this does not take into account the surfaces the water contacts before being consumed. 

There is case law where landlords have been prosecuted for not providing clean and safe water and were instructed to clean the tank and install filtration. This is an extreme no-one would wish to reach and it seems a common-sense approach to follow the good practice of regularly cleaning your tanks and installing filtration at all times to ensure you are providing safe and clean water to your tenants. 

Landlord – multiple dwellings e.g. larger farms with tenanted houses (including employees) 

If your water source is supplying more than one dwelling then you are likely to be considered a small water supply under the auspices of the new water regulator, Taumata Arowai. 

 In short this means you need to develop and implement a water management plan complete with pre-tank preventative measures, and regular tank cleaning combined with a validated UV filtration system. You need to implement the plan and maintain records to show your compliance. The level of regulation changes depending on the number of people using the supply and water source. We would be happy to provide more detailed guidance specific to your circumstances at any time. 

Commercial uses 

If you are using rainfed water for the preparation and serving of food and beverages then you do need to ensure your water is safe at all times. This means meeting food hygiene requirements including developing and implementing a water management plan complete with pre-tank preventative measures, and regular tank cleaning combined with a validated UV filtration system. You need to implement the plan and maintain records to show your compliance. We would be happy to provide more detailed guidance specific to your circumstances at any time. 

Schools, Marae, Community Facilities 

As the users of the water at such facilities can be a significant number of people, you are required by the water regulator, Taumata Arowai, to develop and implement a water management plan to follow an acceptable solution to ensure clean and safe water for all users.  

This will include pre-tank preventative measures, and regular tank cleaning combined with a validated UV filtration system.  

You need to implement the plan and maintain records to show your compliance. We would be happy to provide more detailed guidance specific to your circumstances at any time.

Please contact Hamish at hamish@safeh2o.co.nz if you are interested in more information.  

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