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
- Unsafe water and system breakdowns
- Amount of drinking water to provide
- Corrosion metals in drinking water
- Drinking fountains
- Budget for your water supply
- Conserve water
- Water testing
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 (external link) (Legislation website)
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 against the 11 key components of an effective health and safety system, see:
This will help you meet the requirements of the:
- Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (external link) (Legislation website)
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 Funding.
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:
- Storing water (external link) (Get Thru website)
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.
You must provide at least one bubble fountain or similar for every 60 students in your school.
Include water management in your 10 Year Property Plan.
Make sure you budget for water infrastructure like backflow preventers, taps and pipes.
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.
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, please contact Argest for a password.
- Email: Rob Wilson (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Noelene McGregor (NMcGregor@argest.com)
- Phone: 0800 274 378
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