Three Waters: Govt going ahead despite opposition


The Government will press ahead with its controversial reform of water management, despite widespread rumblings of discontent from councils.

“The case for change is too compelling to ignore,’’ Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta said today, announcing the  Government will create four publicly-owned entities to manage drinking water, waste water and storm water.

‘‘It is clear that without the establishment of these entities we will continue to see a frail network and contaminated water in many communities,’’ Ms Mahuta said.

‘‘To delay will only push the problem on, increase future household costs and put livelihoods at risk.”

Water management is at present in the hands of the country's 67 councils, and several have expressed grave concerns about the Three Waters reforms, calling them an appropriation of local assets by central government.

However, Labour has long campaigned on reforming the water management system and Ms Mahuta said today’s announcement reinforced the Government’s commitment to delivering clean drinking water and fixing and upgrading water-related infrastructure - a cost she put at $185 billion over the next 30 years.

“It would be irresponsible to pour taxpayers’ money into propping up a broken system, or let households face unprecedented rises in water costs,’’ Ms Mahuta said.

‘‘Currently 43 of the 67 councils do not have the revenue to cover their water services operating expenditures at the moment, let alone once the infrastructure starts failing.’’

Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan. Photo: ODT files
Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan. Photo: ODT files
The Three Waters reforms will be mandatory for councils as the legislation moves ahead.

Ms Mahuta said it was a ‘‘bottom line’’ for the Government that the soon to be created water entities remained in public ownership.

“We will continue to work with councils and ensure that local participation is evident in the critical next phase.’’

A working group, comprised of local government, iwi and water industry experts, would be set up to help design the new organisation.

The Government plans for water to be managed by four regional organisations:

  • A will cover Northland and Auckland
  • B the central North Island
  • C the East Coast, Wellington and Nelson Marlborough
  • D the rest of the South Island.

The Water Services Entities Bill is expected to be introduced into Parliament in early December, and the new system is expected to be in operation by July 2024.

Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan said he was disappointed but resigned to the fact that the Government had little choice but to move ahead with its plans.

‘‘It would have been quite a battle to resolve anything otherwise, due to the level of disinformation and poison that has contaminated this process.’’

While dismayed that he would not be able to have a conversation about water management with his local community, Mr Cadogan was pleased that the Government planned to allow some input from local government on the final shape of the plans.

‘‘We need some time now for the dust to settle and for use to work out just what this means for our communities.’’ 

- Staff reporter 

Comments

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“It would be irresponsible to pour taxpayers’ money into propping up a broken system"
Yet it seems perfectly acceptable for the government to create 4 brand new entities each with it's own board and management system, each member earning well over 100k per annum AND the ongoing inclusion of PAID representatives from a particular segment of NZ society.

This is disastrous for communities, New Zealander and democracy in NZ. State control of the right to water.

Time for NZ to stand up against this. I thought we were a democracy not a dictatorship.

Tell the government that.

Hopefully this is the beginning of the end of this Labour/Maori/Green government.

Baffling that a Government given such a popular mandate in 2020 has chosen to embark on such a self destructive policy direction.

More Authoritarianism from this government. We must Vote them out

Oh the irony. A Labour government justifying the confiscation of assets from the people after positioning itself as the people's champion, particularly around treaty settlements related to..... you guess it, confiscation of assets by the crown.

When do the protests start? This needs to be stopped in its tracks before this dictatorship steals more of our assets and rights.

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