Exclusive: Over a million Kiwis don't have safe drinking water

Katie Bradford
Source: 1News

Over a million Kiwis missed out on access to safe drinking water at some point in the last year, 1News can reveal.

The 2020/21 drinking water report details compliance by all providers with drinking water standards.

It reveals that just 78% of the population - 3.2 million people - received drinking water that met all Health Ministry standards.

Problems range from failing to have approved drinking water plans, e.coli in the water, or boil water notices in place.

"I certainly think in a developed country, we should not have problems with access to safe water, the Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall told 1News.

The latest report shows a 1% drop in safe drinking water nationwide, representing a trend of declining water standards.

Hastings District Council is one of those that failed standards - because it is still getting its infrastructure up to scratch.

That's following the 2016 gastro outbreak in Havelock North. The council is spending $82 million to upgrade its drinking water infrastructure.

Taumata Arowai is the new drinking water authority and has been given a range of new powers as part of Three Waters reform.

It means every single entity that supplies water to someone else will face regulation in a few years.

Around 75,000 water suppliers currently aren't registered, though they will have until 2025 to do so and a further three years to understand how the rules apply to them and become compliant.

One of the first new regulations is for drinking water in most cities and towns around the country required to be chlorinated by November.