Drinking water — Schools on town supply

Clean, safe water must be provided at schools, especially for drinking. Poor-quality water can cause illness, and children are at the highest risk.

Legislation and standards

The Building Act

The Building Act provides the legal framework for the provision of safe and sanitary buildings.

All schools must comply with Clause G12 — Water Supplies of the Building Regulations 1992.

Clause G12, Building Regulations 1992 — NZ Legislation website(external link)

The regulations set out performance based objectives that require schools to provide safe, potable water and water for sanitary purposes. For the majority of schools this will be fulfilled by being connected to the local authority water supply.

The Health and Safety at Work Act

Providing clean water at your school is part of your overall health and safety responsibilities. We recommend you review your school’s health and safety systems.

Health, safety and wellbeing

This will help you meet the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 — NZ Legislation website(external link)

Unsafe water and system breakdowns

If water becomes unsafe to drink, you must stop people drinking it. For example, put up notices saying 'unfit for drinking'.

You then need to take immediate steps to make the water safe. This may mean contacting your local council.

If your entire water supply system breaks down, it becomes a priority 1 urgent health and safety project, which can be paid for through your 5 Year Agreement (5YA) Funding.

Urgent health and safety work

5 Year Agreement (5YA) funding

Amount of drinking water to provide

All schools must consider their drinking water storage requirements. You should have at least a 20 day supply in reserve available for emergency drinking water at the daily rate of 4 litres per person per day. 

For normal daily use you must be able to provide not less than 23 litres per person per day. 

If you use water containers to store water, follow good practice guidance on the Get Thru website.

Storing water(external link)

Corrosion metals in drinking water 

Some heavy metals get into water through metal pipes corroding. It builds up when water sits in the pipes overnight.

Make sure all drinking taps are run briefly before the start of school. This is usually done by your caretaker. 

Drinking fountains 

You must provide at least 1 bubble fountain or similar for every 60 students in your school. 

Budgeting for your water supply 

Include water management in your 10 Year Property Plan (10YPP).

Make sure you budget for water infrastructure like backflow preventers, taps and pipes.

10 Year Property Plan

Conserve water

Make sure water isn’t being wasted at your school. 

  • Install water meters so you can set a target to reduce water use.
  • Check for leaks and repairing them straight away.
  • Install low-flow taps and adjustable spray nozzles.
  • Have dual-flush toilets and urinals that run on timers or sensors.
  • Collect rainwater and reusing water for the school gardens.
  • Educate staff and students on ways to save water.
  • Sweep outside areas rather than hosing them.
  • Water plants later in the day to reduce water loss.

Water testing

Once a year all state schools are asked by Argest (the Ministry's agent) where they obtain their water from — town supply, self supply, or other supply.

Depending on your supply, you may have to have your water tested.

If your school is required to have its water supply tested, you must record the results with Argest's secure online service.

If your school is required to test its water supply, but you haven't yet recorded the results online, contact Argest for a password.

Email: Rob Wilson or Noelene McGregor

Phone: 0800 274 378

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