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$10M poured into rural water

A $10 million investment is heading toward rural drinking water suppliers to help them meet Taumata Arowai water standards.
Wairarapa MP and Associate Minister of Local Government Taumata Arowai announced the investment in Eketahuna yesterday.
He said the fund was now open for applications from water suppliers to help them pay for rising water costs and improve their water infrastructure.
“This programme will provide targeted support for rural drinking water suppliers to ensure they can continue to provide water to our rural communities that is affordable and reliable.”
The Wairarapa Times-Age reported in June that all farmers who supplied water to their neighbours would be considered official water suppliers, which required them to comply
with new Taumata Arowai standards.
McAnulty said any water supplier that wasn’t connected to a local council would be eligible for the funding.
He said the government wanted to make sure the requirements weren’t too onerous.
He said any suppliers who gave water to less than 25 properties would need to test their water only twice a year.
Wairarapa had two privately owned water supplies monitored by the Ministry of Health: Opaki Water Supply Association which serviced 1500 people, and Fernridge Water Supply Association which serviced 350 people.
Based on Ministry of Health data for 2021 and 2022, neither association met Health Act, bacterial, or protozoal standards.
As well as privately owned water supplies, there were about 3379 bores in Wairarapa, some privately owned, according to Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC].
GWRC said there were 11 consents for the bores to supply water to more than one property.
The 11 consents covered the use of 19 bores for public and community water supply schemes, such as the Opaki and Fernridge schemes.
GWRC did not know how many private bores serviced more than one household.
McAnulty said the $10 million programme would make sure rural suppliers were supported to upgrade water infrastructure so the cost didn’t fall on suppliers or users.
McAnulty said suppliers would be trained to maintain the infrastructure to make the process of meeting standards consistent across the nation and as easy as possible for suppliers.
He said some farms could already comply with Taumata Arowai standards if they already had a water filter.
For many small suppliers, installing filters “was all they would need to do”.
An industry source who spoke to the Wairarapa Times-Age said a new filter would cost between $300 and $400, plus install costs at about $150 and ongoing maintenance and filter changes.
They said filters would need to be changed every three to six months depending on the quality of the incoming water.
They said filter replacements cost between $120 and $150.
“It’s not a one-off fix and forget – there is ongoing maintenance, and every farm will be dealing with different water quality.”
Tararua mayor Tracey Collis said she was unsure if $10 million would be enough to help all the private water suppliers get up to scratch.
However, she said any funding was good news.
“One of the things that surprised all of us was just how many of these schemes there were across New Zealand.”
McAnulty said the programme was designed to give clarity and support to rural suppliers through the reform process.

  • Further information on the programme is available at crowninfrastructure.govt.nz/ruralwater.


Grace Prior
Grace Prior
Grace Prior is a senior reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age with a keen interest in environmental issues. Grace is the paper’s health reporter and regularly covers the rural sector, weather, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and coastal stories.

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