3 Waters go-live date protest renewed

Clutha mayor Bryan Cadogan. Photo: ODT files
Clutha mayor Bryan Cadogan. Photo: ODT files
Southern mayors say they are again being ignored by the government over Three Waters reforms.

The water services entity that comprises the Otago and Southland regions, known as "Entity J", has been allotted a go-live date of October 1, 2025, by the government, when the water assets will be transferred from councils to the new entities.

Yesterday, the mayors renewed their protest of the date they were given.

Entity J chairman and Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan said Entity J councils had previously called on the government to bring forward the go-live date to July 1, 2025, but the request had been ignored.

Mr Cadogan said he was disappointed with the rejection of the request because it created huge logistical issues for councils.

The October date forced councils to go out of sync with their budgets for their financial years, which started on July 1, and councils in Entity J had "particular extenuating circumstances" that should have been given preferential consideration.

"When you actually look at the topography and geography of Entity J, where you have land masses with small pockets of communities that are very hard to connect from a sewage and water perspective, you’ve got a large number of needs.

"From a financial perspective we are in a fragile situation in comparison with the other entities and to further encumber our ratepayers, it’s just not on."

They had been "absolutely ‘slam-dunked’ into the worst position possible" because they would be out of sync with the financial year and had received the last date out of all the entities, Mr Cadogan said.

"Why did we get it? I don’t know. Do we have the latitude to be able to handle it better than other entities? No we don’t."

There had been a cohesive response from all councils in Entity J and their objection to the allotted date would be ongoing, he said.

"We categorically do not accept the situation," he said.

Jim O'Malley
Jim O'Malley

Yesterday, southern mayors signed a letter to send to Local Government Minister Kieran McAnulty again voicing their opposition.

Dunedin city councillor Jim O’Malley said the Dunedin City Council was frustrated with the allotted date as well.

"It almost feels like we’re getting a bit punished for our level of opposition, to be honest.

"I kind of feel like we’re getting nothing. Every time we ask, we get something else. We never get what we asked for."

Dunedin’s voice was not in any aspect of the design for Three Waters, he said.

"We actually wrote on our last submission that we don’t think they’re reading our submission.

"It was a DIA [Department of Internal Affairs] idea that this would be a great thing.

"So if you want to do this, then at least make it work properly - and making councils transition across in the middle of our financial year isn’t exactly being co-operative or helpful."