It was bifurcated from its parent Department, PWD in 1974. However, its actual functioning as a full-fledged Department started only in 1975, after establishment of the requisite infrastructures. The main objectives of the Department are to provide Safe Drinking Water Supply and proper sanitary conditions to the people of the State. The Department, in order to ensure sustainability of the water supply systems also deals with conservation of water source catchments and also creation of public awareness on public and personal hygiene.
The Directorate of PHE Department is headed by a Chief Engineer. There are 3 Working Circles, 10 Working divisions and 30 Working Sub-divisions. There are also various Cells/Units attached to the Directorate, viz Monitoring and Investigation (M&I) Cell headed by a Superintending Engineer ( M&I) and Human Resource Development (HRD) Cell headed by a Chief Engineer (HRD). In addition, the HRD Cell is also looking after the activities of Information Education and Communication (IEC) Cell and Management Information system (MIS) Cell.
The Department implements projects of Rural water supply through programs, such as the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Program (100% funded by GOI) , the Prime Minister Gramodaya Yojana (PMGY) of State Plan , Sector Reform , Sub Mission , Swajaldhara ,etc.
The Department has already set up two stationary Water Testing Laboratories ( one at Chumukedima Treatment Plant Site under Dimapur District and the other at Kohima town Kohima in District). The Laboratories have facilities to test water quality for common physical, Bacteriological and Chemical contaminations. The Department has also been taking up works on Rain Water Harvesting Schemes under Eleventh Finance Commission (EFC) Award in both rural and urban areas.