Update - Monday 6 April 2020

COVID-19 Local Government Response Unit main page

The national water and wastewater operations helpline - 0800 700 124

Its purpose

To provide operational and process engineering advice to frontline operations staff from local authorities who are experiencing staffing issues due to Covid-19:

  • Advice relating to urgent water treatment issues is available 24/7. An urgent water treatment issue is one that poses an imminent risk to public health.
  • Advice relating to non-urgent water treatment issues and wastewater treatment issues is available Mon-Fri 8am to 6pm.

Our expectation is that local authorities, working with their local CDEM groups will provide support to their community drinking water suppliers, and will coordinate any technical advice.


Advice will be provided over the telephone only.

The advice will be provided by experienced and senior technical experts.

Our treatment experts will make their best endeavours to assist you but please note any reliance you place on advice received is strictly at your own risk.

The service is not intended to be a free consulting resource.

Who is providing the advice

The helpline has been developed, with the support of Water New Zealand, by Lutra who will operate the service.

Lutra are water and wastewater treatment specialists. They provide a range of process engineering services and software to optimise the performance of people and plants. Their expert process engineers provide operational advice to many New Zealand councils.

We are very appreciative of the effort Lutra and Wellington Water have applied to develop and operate this initiative.

Essential Services

Essential sectors include local and national government or any entity involved in COVID-19 response, enforcement, planning or logistics or that has civil defence/emergency management functions (including any entity that supplies services for these purposes) and key public services.

Read further information on the COVID-19 Government website.

The attached guidance on local government essential services (PDF, 628KB) was distributed to all Mayors, Chairs, and CEs from the Response Unit on 31 March 2020.

Councils should continue to prioritise functions relating to public health, public safety and the environment so that only the most vital matters are attended to first. As such, your council may have to apply a level of discretion to adjust some service levels to ensure those services that are most crucial to public health and safety are prioritised and that these are only carried out to the level that is absolutely necessary.

This is an evolving situation and the Essential Services workstream will continue to work with MBIE and other agencies to provide up to date guidance on local government essential services during the COVID-19 response and recovery.

The COVID-19 Local Government Response Unit is working on the impacts of a range of potential scenarios on essential services and related workforce matters under different Alert Levels and will keep you informed of its work in this area as it becomes available.

If you have further questions as the COVID-19 event unfolds please continue to channel these through your SOLGM and LGNZ contacts.

Council turf and parks management

The Government has provided clarity that particular businesses or services such as turf management are not considered an essential service and should not be undertaken at this time. This is due to health and safety reasons and in the interests of slowing the spread of COVID 19.

This will directly affect golf courses and stadiums throughout the country. We ask local government to show leadership and act responsibly in this situation to ensure maintenance of turf, parks and reserves are kept at a minimum or only a necessity for health and safety or wellbeing reasons.

You will need to apply discretion and good judgement in instances where maintenance is required to ensure public safety, for example to ensure a clear line of sight on corners of roads.

In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, we need as few services and businesses to be operating as possible.

Galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAMs)

The Ministry for Culture and Heritage have advised that while New Zealand is at COVID-19 Alert Level 4, all galleries, libraries, archives and museums may undertake essential security and maintenance of these facilities.

These should be kept to a bare minimum, eliminate or minimise physical interactions among staff, and ensure appropriate health, hygiene and safety measures are in place.

Read further information on security and maintenance of GLAM institutions.

Clarifying Alert Level 4 conditions: Section 70 (1)(f) of the Health Act and CDEM Groups

Over the weekend, the Director-General of Health outlined further measures under Section 70(1)(f) of the Health Act, which will provide New Zealand Police with a legislative framework for a graduated response. While this will continue to be based around the four E’s (Engage, Educate, Encourage and Enforce) it will allow Police to Enforce with confidence where required.

Section 70 has been published to the COVID-19 website, and it is in force now.

CDEM groups will be coordinating across this activity and will support Police activity as needed.

We will share any media resources with you as they become available.

Ministry for the Environment updates RMA advice

The Ministry for the Environment has updated its advice provided on Thursday 2 April 2020 and clarified obligations under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) during Covid-19 alert level 4.

Read further information about MfE's updated advice (PDF, 679KB)

All-of-Government messages

COVID-19 WhatsApp channel

A Government WhatsApp channel has been launched to help make information more easily accessible and shareable in the fight against COVID-19.

Govt.NZ, which is free to use on any mobile device, will carry information and news for the public, businesses, healthcare providers, not for profits and local government.

It can be found at COVID-19 Government website.

The current function includes:

  • Latest updates and news
  • Latest case information
  • COVID-19 symptoms
  • What financial support is available
  • Things people need to do to unite against COVID-19.