Three Waters reforms essential

Rachel Brooking. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Rachel Brooking. PHOTO: ODT FILES
"This past week I have been driving around our magnificent, snow-covered Otago region and have noticed signs saying “STOP 3 waters”," writes Dunedin based list MP Rachel Brooking.

I’m aware that there are public forums discussing theft of public assets. So I want to respond.

The three waters are: drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater. These are piped and treated by 67 councils around New Zealand. Reforms do not relate to water before it is piped.

The problem is that pipes are bursting, drinking water needs to be boiled, dirty water goes into the sea, and 37,000 people a year are hospitalised.

A total of $185 billion, or 125 new Dunedin hospitals, is needed over the next 30 years to fix these pipes and treatment stations. That is a lot of money!

Some councils do not have the ratepayer base to fund the upgrades needed for safe, clean water. The reforms are to enable that funding.

By combining councils and their related assets into entities, these can loan cheaper money against a large balance sheet. The entity for Dunedin will follow the Ngāi Tahu takiwa that includes all but the top of the South Island.

Councils within the boundary of an entity will have a shareholding in that entity which is based on population.

This is not theft — Three Waters remains in public ownership and Labour would entrench the requirement to stay in public ownership.

The four entities will be governed by a professional board. The group that appoints the board will have representatives from both the relevant councils and mana whenua.

A Bill to create these entities is open for submissions until July 22.

Please remember that Three Waters will always be needed and require financing. It’s just a matter of how.

In the meantime, I hope everyone enjoys our first public holiday celebrating Matariki, our first national holiday to specifically recognise matauranga Maori.

I’m keen to visit the Steamer Basin Wharf to partake in the immersive water and light show over the weekend.

Plus a range of healthy seasonal kai will be available for purchase. Yum!



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