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Three Waters Reform
On 27 October 2021, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta confirmed the Government will create four publicly owned water entities. Read the Minister’s statement here.
The Water Services Entities Bill is closed for submissions. This is the Bill to establish the four water entities that would take over the provision of these services from territorial authorities. Read Council’s submission below.
What’s our position so far?
We fully support the government’s intention to ensure that all New Zealanders have access to safe, clean water and that our environment is protected and regenerated as a priority. But it’s also vital we have a clear understanding of whether the proposed approach is the right thing for our district.
QLDC released the following statement in response to the Minister’s announcement, which you can read here.
On Tuesday 28 September, Council’s Elected Members unanimously voted on a position statement on the Three Waters Reform.
The statement summary is as follows:
QLDC supports the need for regulation, a strong strategic framework and the key outcomes that the Government seeks to achieve.
QLDC will strongly and actively oppose Government mandating the proposed Entity based model for water services delivery.
Government needs to demonstrate leadership and transparency in the delivery of this reform programme and establish a full programme of meaningful engagement with New Zealanders before taking further steps. An undue burden has been placed upon councils to broker this proposal with their communities, despite a contested evidence base and the profound implications such a change could have on the nature of local democracy.
The Chief Executive will provide Council’s feedback to the Minister of Local Government by Friday, 1 October 2021.
A decision to provide feedback does not commit the Council to a particular position on a future model for three waters service delivery or to continued participation in the Government’s reform programme.
On 25 August 2021, the Mayors and Chairs of Otago Southland wrote to the Minister of Local Government to formally request a pause to the current three waters reform process to allow Councils the time to engage with their communities.
What does this mean for us?
The Central Government has launched a national campaign that presents the reform in a very positive light, and there are likely to be lots of positives at a national level, but at the moment we don’t know the specifics of what the proposal means for our district and its communities.
It’s likely that centralisation would provide some long-term financial benefits for households, but that’s only if the new entity achieves the ambitious efficiencies it sets out to.
The Review of WICS Data - Morrison Low is an independent review outlining financial analysis of the proposed three waters reform.
Data that the government has put out suggests the cost savings per household will be approximately $7,000 by 2051. But our assessment shows the true cost savings to be between $500 and $1,500 depending on the efficiencies achieved.
There will be some funding available to support councils in the transition to the new water entities, but this has been determined on normally resident population. It doesn’t allow for visitor numbers or holiday-home owners. This is something we will be raising with the Government in our response.
It is expected that the reform will have significant consequences for QLDC’s balance sheet and our ability to raise finance and manage debt. There will also be extremely limited local representation in the governance of the proposed water entity.
We do know that staff who work primarily on water will be guaranteed a role at the new water service entities. This role will retain key features of their current role including salary, terms and critically – location.
Frequently Asked Questions
Across the country, three waters is managed by many public and private schemes, with varying levels of quality and compliance.
The proposal from Central Government is to create four new water entities.
This would see all council-run drinking water, wastewater and stormwater transfer from local councils, to one of the four water entities.
There would be one entity to cover most of the South Island and we don’t know where that entity will be based, logically it could be a big metro like Christchurch or Dunedin.
These entities will take full control of the three waters assets, debt, prices and services in place of council.
A new water regulator has been set up, which we think is positive – Taumata Arowai.Close
While we did not have enough detail to formally consult the community, we wanted to get a feel for the ‘mood of the district’ on this issue.
We had an online survey at letstalk.qldc.govt.nz to gather thoughts and impressions from the community to help shape our thinking. Results from the survey are available here.Close
Taumata Arowai is the new water services regulator for Aotearoa New Zealand.
Taumata Arowai is currently consulting on the following proposed documents, which will inform their first set of water regulations.
Drinking Water Standards
Drinking Water Quality Assurance Rules
Drinking Water Aesthetic Values
Drinking Water Acceptable Solution for Roof Water Supplies
Drinking Water Acceptable Solution for Spring and Bore Water Supplies
Drinking Water Acceptable Solution for Rural Agricultural Water Supplies
Drinking Water Network Environmental Performance
These documents are targeted at drinking water suppliers and contain technical content that will guide the way safe drinking water is supplied.
Submissions are open until 28 March 2022. Find out more and provide your feedback at te-puna-korero.taumataarowai.govt.nz.
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