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Government to create 'dedicated watchdog' to regulate water quality

The Government has today announced the creation of a "dedicated watchdog" to regulate water quality in New Zealand.

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New regulations will also be introduced to help clean up wastewater and stormwater systems. Source: 1 NEWS

The decision to create the new regulations was spurred by the Havelock North Campylobacter outbreak in 2016 where 5,000 people got sick from their drinking water.

"Access to safe, clean drinking water is a birth-right for New Zealanders and a key concern for communities up and down the country. Wherever they live, consumers and communities expect to be able to turn on the tap and drink the water without fear of getting ill," says Minister of Health Dr David Clark says in a statement.

"Immediately following the Havelock North Inquiry Stage 2 Report we began implementing its recommendations to increase public safety while the Three Waters review worked through the longer-term programme of reform options.

"In line with one of the Inquiry’s key recommendations, Cabinet has now agreed to establish a dedicated water regulator who will ensure New Zealanders can have confidence their drinking water is demonstrably safe."

The Government says the new regulations will also help clean up New Zealand’s wastewater and stormwater systems.

Key features from today’s announcement include:

• a dedicated water regulator

• a new Water Services Bill

• extending regulatory coverage to all water suppliers, except individual household self-suppliers

• strengthened Government stewardship of wastewater and stormwater services, with Regional Councils remaining primary regulators for the environment

• transitional arrangements of up to five years to allow water suppliers to adjust to the regulations, if necessary with support from the new regulator.

According to a release from the Government: "The final form, scope and location of the regulator will be the subject of advice due with Cabinet later in the year."