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Local leaders welcome 3 Waters decision

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Porirua’s Mayor and the Greater Wellington Regional Council Chair welcome the Government decision on an “all in” approach to 3 Waters reforms as a positive step towards improved and consistent delivery of water services across New Zealand.

Local Government Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta announced this morning that the Government will create four publicly owned water entities to ensure every New Zealander has access to affordable, long-lasting drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure without ballooning costs to households and families.

A working group will be established with the local government sector, iwi and water industry experts to work through issues raised by councils about representation and accountability.

Porirua Mayor Anita Baker supported the move.

“I am pleased the Government has stepped up and made this decision as we owe residents and ratepayers the truth – and the truth is, without reform, the Council does not have the resources or borrowing capacity to deliver the 3 Waters to an acceptable standard. The cost of doing so is in the billions.

“Porirua City has already put aside $800 million over the next 30 years – and that's not even half of what's needed. How can we expect 19,000 ratepayers to foot a bill of that magnitude?” she said.

“We will take every opportunity as a Council to get the best deal we can for Porirua. We will push for improvements to the proposal before it's enacted, including through stronger democratic mechanisms.”

Greater Wellington Regional Council Chair Daran Ponter agreed that today’s decision was the right one.

“This is a bold step, but precisely what is required to address chronic under-investment and looming requirements across the sector. The mandatory all-in approach will provide greater certainty to New Zealanders about the delivery of drinking water, the management of storm water and enables the sector to better meet increasingly stringent requirements around the discharge of sewage,” he said.

“It is good to see that the Government has listened to Councils and is forming a reference group to work through outstanding issues related to accountability and representation”

The Government initially launched the 3 Waters reform programme in July 2020, to look at how best to deliver to regulate and deliver the three waters - drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services - across New Zealand. Today’s decision follows feedback from councils on the Government’s initial proposal and data.

In her announcement Minister Mahuta said it was a bottom line for the government that the entities remain in public ownership.

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

“As we look to next steps, I will be introducing legislation to progress the establishment of the entities. The Select Committee process will provide an opportunity to get public feedback on the reforms”.

Read more here

27 Oct 2021