Our drinking water system

Water from the Waikato River is thoroughly treated at our Waiora Treatment Plant, then pumped to reservoirs around the city before passing through pipes to your tap.


  • water treatment plant
  • over 1400km of pipes
  • nine reservoirs with a storage capacity of about 110,000,000L.


We comply with Taumata Arowai's drinking water standards. Taumata Arowai has also graded the water leaving our treatment plant, and the distribution system it then travels through. 

Both Hamilton and Temple View have always had an Aa grade, meaning both the water leaving the treatment plant and the distribution system are ‘completely satisfactory, extremely low level of risk’.

Our stormwater system

The stormwater system is only for rain, which flows into gutters and into the pipe system before being released into the Waikato River and other Hamilton waterways. Stormwater is not treated.


  • over 700km of pipes
  • connecting to 64,000 rateable properties.


It is illegal for anything except for rainwater to enter the stormwater system. Substances such as oil, paint rinse water, and pool or spa water must not go into the system (there are some exceptions, such as water from firefighting).

To protect the Waikato River and other waterways:

  • we need a resource consent from Waikato Regional Council to discharge stormwater
  • the Hamilton Stormwater Bylaw 2021 sets out the rules.

Under the Bylaw, high risk facilities such as service stations, mechanical workshops, stock saleyards and car washes need a Pollution Control Plan to ensure problematic materials do not enter the stormwater system.

Our wastewater system

‘Used’ water from household kitchens, bathrooms and laundries, and from business and industry, contains waste. This wastewater is carried to the Pukete Wastewater Treatment Plant and treated before being released into the Waikato River.


  • over 850km of pipes 
  • over 17,000 manholes
  • over 60,000 connections
  • 132 pumping stations
  • six major wastewater pipeline bridges 
  • wastewater treatment plant.


The Hamilton Trade Waste and Wastewater Bylaw 2016 sets out what is and is not allowed into the city’s wastewater. Most businesses will need a trade waste consent.

Why use water wisely

It can look like there’s plenty of water in the Waikato River, so why do we need to use water wisely?

The awa (river) provides water for Hamilton as well as other places like Auckland, and Council is only permitted to take a certain amount of water from it. This is to maintain minimum flows and levels to prevent:  

  • fish, plants and other aquatic life dying or disappearing altogether
  • rising water temperatures, affecting aquatic life and limiting the use of water for industrial cooling
  • higher concentrations of pollutants like silt and nutrients in the river, which can cause algae to grow, increase treatment costs, and reduce water availability.

Using water wisely reduces the amount of wastewater that needs treating, and reduces pressure on our water systems, so we can use what we have for longer. 

If you see pollution in the Waikato River, please report it to Waikato Regional Council.

Smart Water aims to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of water, from source to tap. Its vision is for water to be considered and used as a precious resource.

Visit Smart Water for tips on wise water use.


Related information



Related pages

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Bring our city's drinking water, wastewater and stormwater to life using our Council-funded interactive model!

Previous Water Reform

Please note, this is archived material related to Government’s water reform between 2020 and 2023.

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Last updated 12 March 2024