Water Services Reform

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Facts about water

Learn more about New Zealand's water services reform and why we need to make changes. 

Some New Zealanders don’t have access to safe drinking water from their tap:
  • 1 in 5 New Zealanders have tap water that isn’t safe to drink (Ministry of Health, 2021).
  • In 2020-2021, over 1 million people had access to tap water that didn’t meet drinking water safety standards (Water New Zealand, 2021).
  • In 2019-2020, 500,000 people lived with boil water notices (Ministry of Health, 2019-2020).
  • There are some areas in Aotearoa where boil water notices are permanent (Ministry of Health, 2019-2020).
  • More than half of our drinking water suppliers provided water below the drinking water standards in 2021 (Taumata Arowai, 2022).


Water Services Reform will create new opportunities for our water workforce:
  • 6,000 – 9,000 jobs are expected to be created over the next 30 years (DAE Industry Development Study, 2021). 
  • Deloitte projects that the water workforce will grow from 9,000 to almost 17,000 employees by 2051 (DAE Industry Development Study, 2021). 


Investment is needed:
  • It’s estimated that New Zealand needs to invest $120 billion to $185 billion in our water services infrastructure over the next 30 years (Water Industry Commission for Scotland, 2021). 
  • Without reform, the cost to households will be between $1,900 and $9,000 (Water Industry Commission for Scotland, 2021).
  • With reform, costs are projected to range between $800 and $1,640 (Water Industry Commission for Scotland, 2021). 


Decades of underinvestment has led to aging infrastructure:
  • A third of our national wastewater treatment plants need upgrades (Water New Zealand, 2021).
  • In 2020-2021 there were around 12 wastewater and stormwater overflows per day (Water New Zealand, 2021).
  • Approximately 20% of drinking water is lost on the way to households each year (Water New Zealand, 2020-2021).
  • In 2020 – 2021, one-third of all wastewater treatment plants operated without the required consents and require upgrades to be compliant (Water New Zealand, 2020-2021).
  • More than 4,000 overflows from wastewater networks occurred in 2020-2021. Twelve times every day, untreated wastewater pollutes our waterways or surfaces in residential areas (Water New Zealand, 2020-2021).