11 Jun 2017

Auditor set to examine NZ's water supply systems

12:22 pm on 11 June 2017

Irrigation, resource consent management and drinking water supplies will all be subjected to the spotlight of the Office of the Auditor General in the coming year.

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Water is the Auditor General's work theme for 2017/18, and the office will examine how effectively the resource is being managed by local and central government.

It plans to look at the security of drinking water supply sources, a topical subject after more than 5000 people in Havelock North fell ill from campylobacter in the town's water supply.

The office is planning to audit how well a number of regional councils are protecting people's drinking water.

It will also look at what local authorities are doing to ensure access to a safe drinking water supply in the future because of factors such as climate change and changing demographics.

In terms of freshwater, it will examine the compliance, monitoring and enforcement of resource consent conditions.

A performance audit of how the Ministry for the Environment selects and monitors the organisations that it funds to improve and recover water quality will also be undertaken.

This work will also take in how the Ministry plans to monitor the $100 million Freshwater Improvement Fund the government has put in place to pay for waterway improvements over the next ten years.

Irrigation will also be on the agenda, and the office will carry out an audit on water management and how local authorities monitor irrigators' use of the resource.

Stormwater networks and the management of floodrisks would also be looked at.

The Department of Conservation's decision-making processes around designating marine reserve status to a body of water would also be subject to a performance audit.

The Office of the Auditor General will table this plan in Parliament before the end of June.

Last month, the recently-appointed Auditor General Martin Matthews stood down from the role, while a review is conducted into his suitability for the role.

The review will consider his conduct during a major fraud that was carried out by a senior manager under his watch at the Transport Ministry.

His office says the timeline of the water work would not be affected by this.

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