Laboratory Drinking Water Reporting Requirements
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Laboratory Drinking Water Reporting Requirements

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Laboratory Drinking Water Reporting Requirements

In 2017 IANZ released a supplementary criterion to the Register of Water Testing Laboratories requiring a number of changes to the way laboratories operate. The changes were implemented due to the findings of the Havelock North enquiry. One of these changes directly affects the relationship that laboratories have with their customers.

Section 5.4.4 describes . . . .

“Under section 69ZZ(2) of the Health Act (1965), the laboratory is required to report the results of any analysis or test carried out (for the purpose of testing for compliance with the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards 2005 (Revised 2008)) that indicates any non-compliance (transgression) with the MAVs to the Drinking Water Assessor by the operator of the laboratory or the person performing the test as soon as practical after the test is conducted.”

It further describes . . . .

In addition Section3.1 of the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards 2005 (Revised 2008) requires if testing water supply for other than compliance purposes indicates a possible health risk, the results must be reported to the Drinking Water Assessor.

For Eurofins-ELS this has been a work in progress since the supplementary criteria was released.

There are 20 District Health Boards around New Zealand (see the map) and finding the correct contacts within all those organisations has taken quite some time, and is still not complete. We are still developing a central email process to ensure the correct data goes to the appropriate DHB.

In order to achieve this, we need to know a number of things about the sample before we process it:

Where does the sample come from?

The geographic origin of the sample will determine who we contact in the event of a transgression.

What is the purpose of collecting the sample?

If the sample being collected for compliance with NZDWS purposes then we have a clear obligation under the terms of our IANZ accreditation to notify the DHB if there is a transgression. These samples are usually accompanied by a unique Drinking Water Online (DWO) code which we can use to identify the location and DHB.

What do we test the sample for?

There are many tests listed in the Drinking Water Standards. Deciding what tests we should perform will possibly become a very important part of this reporting process.

What about non-compliance samples?

The IANZ criterion requires us to notify the DHB when any sample is found to have any test result that indicates a health risk. We are obliged under the terms of our accreditation to send this information to the DHB, but if we don’t know the source location of a sample or if our customer does not provide the information, then we will be unable to comply.

How do we report transgression data to the District Health Board

Identifying the results to report, and the DHB to report them to, is only part of the difficult task facing laboratories. There is still the difficulty of the format for reporting the data.

The Drinking Water Online (DWO) database replaced a desktop system called WINZ in 2017. This web based application simplified the distribution of water quality data by centralising it and allowing access to various functions based on the role of the user. As a laboratory, we can only enter data for those supplies we are authorised for. This means we cannot upload data for other reticulated supplies that we receive data for.

The DWO database is also limited to reticulated supplies and unlike WINZ does not allow the uploading of small supply data. Almost 2,000 small supplies that once had data uploaded to WINZ no longer have a central repository for their results.

Reporting data to the relevant DHB for transgression results can therefore not be delivered using the DWO database and must therefore be sent another way.

We are currently working through this process at Eurofins-ELS so that correct and relevant information is sent to the right destination. We will also be liaising with our customers to ensure that this process is understood.

Our customers need to know that the laboratory/customer relationship has been joined by a third party and that information based on the health of all New Zealanders and their drinking water quality has now become a much larger entity.

It is a very unusual situation that Eurofins-ELS and all other laboratories now find ourselves in.