Dr Tim Chambers, Prof Nick Wilson, Jayne Richards, A/Prof Simon Hales, Dr Mike Joy, Prof Michael Baker (author affiliations*)
Increasing water-related health threats, notably the waterborne campylobacter outbreak in Havelock North, have highlighted failings in NZ’s regulatory system for drinking water. In this blog we consider how the new Water Services Bill might provide a framework to enable the new water regulator, Taumata Arowai, to oversee, administer and enforce new drinking water regulations. We also detail how addressing the upstream determinants of water-related disease burden is a far better approach than treating water that has already become contaminated. The COVID-19 experience also raises the benefits of consolidating NZ’s public health organisations into a single highly competent national public health agency, which may have implications for reform of drinking water safety.