The government inquiry has also recommended the creation of an independent drinking water regulator to monitor supplies around the country and crack down on offenders. Sheep faeces from a nearby paddock likely entered the stream.
Chief executive Kevin Snee said he believed the Inquiry Panel had done a thorough job that addressed numerous issues which prevented New Zealanders from being able to have complete confidence in their drinking water.
It urgently encourages the universal treatment of water.
The risks for contamination of the water supplies were detailed by the inquiry including damaged pipes, a huge number of private and unknown bores, and the close proximity of sewerage to drinking water assets, a factor that caused surprise among overseas experts. Many were reaching the end of their lifespan and the cost of replacement was estimated to be about $2.2 billion.
"Since the outbreak there had continued to be reports of E.coli in water supplies throughout Hawke's Bay". Twenty-six of the boil water notices were permanently in place (affecting 7200 people).
If you're in any doubt, boil your water before drinking.
"These findings point to a widespread systemic failure among water suppliers to meet the high standards required for the supply of safe drinking water to the public", the report said.
It was estimated there were now about 35,000 cases of acute gastrointestinal illness contracted from reticulated drinking water per year.
The findings come from the second stage of a Government inquiry into the Havelock North water poisoning that saw 5,500 people become ill from drinking contaminated water. The decrease in compliance with the bacteriological standards results from an increased number of transgressions, an increased number of supplies with ineffective, delayed or unknown remedial action following transgressions, and an increased number of supplies with inadequate monitoring.
It found that lessons from Havelock North appeared not to have been learned - compliance figures in the 2016-17 period were still "alarmingly low" and "do not appear to reflect any increased vigilance by suppliers in the aftermath of [that] outbreak".
Attorney General David Parker sheeted some of the blame home to the former Government, saying Labour had inherited a "mess" from National. "Neither has the Ministry of Health. shown an ability to call the industry to account". "We must do better".
Parker said the Government had written to mayors and district health boards, asking them to check their water supplies met standards given "significant non-compliance" identified in the report.
The report estimates more than 759,000 people were exposed to potentially unsafe water in 2015/16 and between 18,000 and 100,000 people probably got sick.