Water quality in New Zealand


Good quality drinking water is critical for people’s health and their quality of life. The health risk to consumers from water-borne diseases in drinking water supplies comes from three main types of microorganisms: bacteria (such as Campylobacter and pathogenic E. coli), parasites (such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium) and viruses such as Norovirus. In 2006/2007 there were 27 water-borne disease outbreaks, with untreated or contaminated supplies identified as a contributing factor in most of them.


Compliance rates for Cryptosporidium dropped in 2003 to 47 per cent, but recovered to 59 per cent in 2004. The drop in the compliance rate in 2003 was largely due to non-compliance at the Waitakere plant, which has since been resolved.


Overall, the quality of New Zealand’s drinking water is comparable with other developed countries. New Zealand’s water supplies are free of many of the pathogens that result in sickness and death in some parts of the world. However, the annual average incidence of notified cases in New Zealand between 1997 and 2006 was 44.1 cases per 100,000 people, considerably higher than reported rates for other western countries, such as the United Kingdom, with 5.5 cases per 100,000 in 2005. The incidence of notified cryptosporidiosis between 1997 and 2006 was also higher in New Zealand (22.0 cases per 100,000) than in some other western countries, such as Australia (15.8 cases per 100,000 in 2005) and the United Kingdom (8.5 cases per 100,000 in 2005). The contribution of contaminated drinking water to the incidence of giardiasis and cryptosporidiosis is not accurately known.


Proportion of the population served with water that meets the relevant Drinking-water Standards, 2001–2007/2008

Proportion of the population served with water that meets the relevant Drinking-water Standards, 2001–2007/2008

Source: Environmental Science and Research, customised data (from the New Zealand Ministry of Social Development - 2009 Social Report). Please click here to read the full report.


Important questions that you should consider:

  • So why take any risk at all and allow these unseen enemies to attack us?
  • If there is an error or imperfection somewhere and you are at the wrong tap at the wrong time, what are the consequences?
  • Did you know chemicals like fluoride are added at your local purification plant in New Zealand?
  • Are you taking responsibility for your own health and do not leave it up to others?



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