Public water supplies must meet the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards. The public health implications of contaminated water necessitate the protection of Christchurch’s drinking water.

Changes to our Community Outcomes and Strategic Priorities

The Council approved a new 2020 strategic framework on 19 December 2019 and this is currently part of the consultation document on the annual plan.

Information on our revised Community Outcomes and Strategic Priorities is currently being developed.

What this means for our district

  • The secure supply of safe drinking water is maintained in sufficient quantities to provide for the community's reasonable needs
  • Water quality in aquifers is protected from the effects of land use
  • Communities demonstrate a commitment to water conservation, promoting water quality

How we are contributing

Temporary chlorination is currently being used to safeguard our drinking water while the necessary remedial work is undertaken. All efforts are being taken to complete the work as soon as possible to allow for the chlorination of our drinking water to end.

How you can help

The remedial work on wellheads will require certain pump stations to be closed off from the water supply network as work progresses in the area. If the community is able to conserve its water use across the city, this may enable several sites to be worked on at the same time while still maintaining an adequate water supply, which may reduce the time in which chlorination is required.

How we are doing

Status What do we want to achieve? What has happened?
Negative Result
Negative Result

Satisfaction with the overall quality of the water supply in Christchurch

Since 2005, around 90% of residents have been satisfied with the overall quality of the water supply. However, in 2019 this declined to 37%. Further information.

Negative Result
Negative Result

Compliance with Health Act 1956 and Drinking-Water Standards

In the 2017/18 year, all Christchurch water supplies failed to meet the water quality standards. Water supplies for 74% of the Christchurch population failed to comply with the Health Act requirements. Further information.

Positive result

Groundwater quality

Groundwater quality in Christchurch is generally very good and the majority of samples meet the NZ drinking water standards without treatment. Further information.

Indeterminate Result
Water supply abstraction and abstraction per person

Per person abstraction rates have been declining over time, however the total abstraction declined slightly after the earthquakes and over the last five years has averaged 50 million cubic metres per year. Further information.

Satisfaction with the overall quality of the water supply in Christchurch

Before the earthquakes, residents' overall satisfaction with the water supply was consistently over 90% with the taste, pressure and appearance of the Council's water supply.

After the earthquakes, this decreased slightly to 84% satisfaction in 2014, before increasing to over 90% in 2016 and 2017. However in 2018, with the decision to temporarily chlorinate (although chlorination had not commenced at the time of the survey), satisfaction declined to 79%.

Following the introduction of chlorine, in 2019 resident satisfaction with the water supply more than halved to 37%, while dissatisfaction increased to 45%.

Compliance with Heath Act and Drinking-water Standards

In the 2017/18 year, all Christchurch water supplies failed to meet the water-quality standards specifically for protozoa.

Water supplies for 74% of the Christchurch population failed to comply with the Health Act requirements for safe drinking water supplies.

This resulted in the Council chlorinating the city’s water supply until work on fixing the well heads is completed which is expected to be done by the end of 2019

Groundwater quality

Environment Canterbury reported(external link) that groundwater quality is generally very good and the majority of samples meet New Zealand drinking water standards without treatment. The best water quality occurs across the northern area, thanks to seepage of clean water from the Waimakariri River into the aquifer.

Groundwater quality in the south is still good, but the water contains more dissolved substances picked up during infiltration through the soil at the land surface.

Some areas near the Avon-Heathcote Estuary/Ihutai and old coastal swamps have low dissolved oxygen, which causes naturally poorer groundwater quality.

Environment Canterbury has found very little evidence of changing groundwater quality in Christchurch over the last ten years. Four wells showed increasing concentrations of three or four monitoring parameters that could signal a slight long-term decline in quality near the groundwater table to the west and south west of the city. A fifth well with a definite declining trend is down gradient of known point source discharges of contaminants.

Two wells showed continuing improved groundwater quality in the Woolston-Heathcote groundwater management zones. The improvement is probably a result of better management of abstraction and discharges to ground than in previous decades. 

Water supply abstraction and abstraction per person

Total water abstracted from the aquifers for the Council's water supplies has fluctuated, but averaged around 53 million cubic metres per year in the 10 years to the earthquakes. 

After the earthquakes, abstraction fell to around 47 million cubic metres from 2012 to 2014. Abstraction has since increased to average 50 million cubic metres since 2014.

Per person abstraction before the earthquakes averaged 411 litres per person per year. Post-earthquake, this average has declined to 364 litres per person. 

Annual variation in the consumption of water is largely influenced by summer weather patterns, with differences in how often gardens and lawns get watered by hose or sprinkler, resulting in a per capita variation from the post earthquake average of plus or minus 7%.

Further information

Please email for further information.

Liability statement

Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy in processing, analysing and reporting the information provided in these web pages and reports. However, the Christchurch City Council gives no warranty that the information in these web pages and reports contain no errors. The Council shall not be liable for any loss or damage suffered consequent upon the use directly, or indirectly, of the information supplied in this publication.