Hurunui, Waimakariri, Kaikoura councils make joint call to pause Three Waters reform

The Hurunui, Waimakariri and Kaikoura district councils say an independent review of the Water...
The Hurunui, Waimakariri and Kaikoura district councils say an independent review of the Water Services Entities Bill is urgently needed. Photo: File image
North Canterbury’s three councils have called for a pause in their submissions to the Government’s Three Waters reform.

The Hurunui, Waimakariri and Kaikoura district councils say an independent review of the Water Services Entities Bill is urgently needed.

All three councils are members of Communities 4 Local Democracy.

Hitting pause would allow for "a proper and detailed independent review" of the base modelling conducted by the Department of Internal Affairs, Hurunui District Council said in its submission.

A pause would also allow a governance model to be developed, which was directly accountable to consumers, the Hurunui council said.

It also questions the proposed shareholding model, which it claims "is not a shareholding at all" but rather a right to veto the future sale of the water entity’s assets.

Dan Gordon. Photo: Supplied by Dan Gordon
Dan Gordon. Photo: Supplied by Dan Gordon
Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon said his council supports the establishment of the national entity, Taumata Arowai, and the involvement of mana whenua in local decision-making.

But he called for a halt to the Three Waters reform while the Government is embarking on changes to resource management and local government legislation.

Gordon is concerned with the size and structure of the proposed water services entities and the lack of community representation.

"These new entities will not be agile enough to respond effectively to problems or civil defence issues. There will be a total loss of local knowledge and know-how."

Craig Mackle. Photo: Supplied by Craig Mackle
Craig Mackle. Photo: Supplied by Craig Mackle
Kaikoura Mayor Craig Mackle said the information provided by the DIA for the future investment of Kaikoura’s Three Waters infrastructure is "fundamentally flawed and frankly ludicrous".

Using the Water Industry Commission for Scotland as a model, the DIA estimates $280 million will need to be spent in Kaikoura over the next 30 to 50 years.

This is based on modelling of a cap of $70,000 per connected citizen, assuming 4000 connected citizens.

The Kaikoura district’s present population is about 4260. The council’s own estimate for the next three decades is $27.2 million.

"On the face of it, using the WICS numbers, we could replace our existing Three Waters network five times in the next 30 years," Mackle said.

A DIA spokesperson said in July last year Kaikoura District Council was underestimating the future cost of maintaining its infrastructure.

"These projected costs need to be considered in the context of a history of under investment in water infrastructure in New Zealand and the need to take a long term (30 to 50 year) intergenerational view in providing safe and environmentally appropriate water services," the spokesperson said.

Mackle said the council supports aspects of the reform agenda and could work with the proposed "Entity D, Ngai Tahu takiwa", which would cover most of the South Island, should the reforms go ahead.

-By David Hill
Local Democracy Reporter

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