Two years on, the Havelock North water crisis is still having a impact.

Minister of Health David Clark has announced changes to drinking water safety standards following the Havelock North Inquiry.

"The Havelock North Inquiry sent a clear message that work was needed to improve the standard of drinking-water in New Zealand.

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"The bottom line is public safety. People expect when they turn on the tap, the water they are drinking is safe, and that is a reasonable expectation which should be met."


He said there were two significant proposed changes.

The first was mandatory routine testing of coliform bacteria.

"A high reading doesn't necessarily mean drinking water is unsafe, but can serve as an indicator of potential issues," Clark said.

The second one would see testing for E. coli done in one stage, rather than two.

Currently it takes two days for authorities to confirm whether water is contaminated with E. coli, with proposed changes eliminating the need for a second test, meaning authorities could confirm contamination faster.

MP for Tukituki - and mayor of Hastings during the crisis - Lawrence Yule, said he supported the changes.

"I think the Havelock North Water Inquiry did show that the testing regime needs to be updated and modernised.

"The Hastings District Council at the time was following the water testing regime as laid down by the law."


He said testing the water in one stage rather than two, would be more expensive, but was firmly of the view that the extra cost was worth it.

Group manager for regulation at Hawke's Bay Regional Council Liz Lambert said the changes were a good thing.

"The Havelock North drinking water contamination had a devastating effect on that community and the regional council is very keen to ensure it does not happen again.

"Anything that gives the public more confidence in the quality of their drinking water is a good thing."

As well as the changes to water testing, Clark and Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta have released a proposal for a system wide reform of regulation of drinking water.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the council had already moved to make drinking water safer, but still welcomed the reform.

"We haven't waited for reform, we have already moved to improve and safeguard this resource for our community.

"We look forward to sharing this area of work with the Government.

"The suggested regulatory changes will drive better practice around drinking water, stormwater and wastewater – essentially putting more safeguards and efficiency into water delivery from the source to consumers' taps, and then safely back to the environment."

Clark intends to consult on the E. coli and coliform bacteria testing, including talking with testing laboratories.

There are other changes being made as a result of the inquiry, however Clark said these were minor clarifications or corrections.

Changes will come into effect on March 1, 2019.