The government says red tape is slowing down drinking water quality improvements and that has to change.
Recent data from the Health Ministry showed town supplies for one in five New Zealanders did not meet current standards.
Health Minister David Clark told Morning Report today the government planned to change the law to allow improvements to be made faster.
"Currently there's a requirement that you must consult for three years, and it takes a couple more years to implement any changes. Now everyone agrees that's too long in some cases - in some cases it'll be important to do a full, long consultation, but in others, where everyone agrees that changes need to be made, we need to be able to move more quickly."
He said the timeline for changes would change on a case-by-case basis.
Dr Clark said the inquiry into the Havelock North gastro outbreak - which left 5000 people ill - showed there was work to be done.
He said some of the improvements will be expensive and it was yet to be decided whether central government will pick up some of the cost.