The safety of Tasman residents’ drinking water is of paramount importance and will be protected under a new set of guiding principles adopted today by the Tasman District Council.

The new Drinking Water Quality Management Policy is a direct response to the Havelock North gastroenteritis outbreak, which resulted from contamination of the town’s drinking water supply in August 2016.

Government guidance issued in 2019 following an investigation into the Havelock North contamination identified the need for Councils to put clear policy in place demonstrating commitment to six fundamental principles of drinking water safety.

Tasman Mayor Tim King said it was essential the community could have confidence its drinking water supply was safe at all times.

“No-one wants to see another Havelock North happen and it’s our responsibility to ensure we can protect our water supply to the community from its source right through to where it comes out of people’s taps.”

The ‘source to tap’ approach means the Council will:

  • Embrace a high standard of care to manage water quality at all points along the delivery chain
  • Maintain an organisational sense of responsibility and dedication to providing consumers with safe drinking water
  • Monitor and manage land use activities upstream of abstraction points to ensure they do not impact on downstream drinking-water quality
  • Maintain robust multiple barriers against contamination appropriate to the level of potential contamination and harm
  • Ensure, where appropriate, source protection is enabled in the Tasman Resource Management Plan
  • Develop, maintain and review robust Water Safety Plans (WSPs) for each supply scheme

Other key elements of the policy include:

  • the approach for prioritising investment in water supply infrastructure, with drinking water safety to be at the heart of decision-making
  • ensuring strong lines of communication with other Councils, Nelson Marlborough Health, central Government, iwi, key stakeholders, the community, water supply contractors and regulators
  • a preventative approach to identify and manage risks to the drinking water supply.

Tim said the policy would guide the Council as it continued its essential work to provide a clean, secure supply of drinking water to the community.

“We’re going to have to make some decisions over the next year or so to support these principles and to give us the greatest confidence we can possibly have that we have minimised the risks to that supply both at its source and as it travels through our pipe network to people’s taps. Some of those conversations may not be easy and I fully expect our community will be play an active part in the consultation we’ll carry out around chlorination later this year, for example.

“We have a very clear responsibility and the Government guidance about how we deliver on that is more stringent than it has been in the past. People’s health is paramount and we’ll be keeping that at the centre of our ongoing efforts to deliver water to the community.”

The new policy will be available to read on the Council's website.