27 October 2021
Today the Government confirmed it will create publicly owned water entities as part of its drinking, waste and storm water infrastructure reforms.
The Government announced work is underway to establish a working group of local government, iwi and water industry experts to work through elements of entity design.
- Read the Government’s full media release at beehive.govt.nz.
- Download the Department of Internal Affairs [DIA] Water Service Entities – Fact Sheet – Three Waters Reform Programme [PDF, 330KB]
Carterton District Council Response
Geoff Hamilton, Chief Executive
“It is disappointing that today’s announcement seems to ignore much of our feedback on the reforms, but we are pleased the Government has taken on board our feedback regarding the proposed Governance model for the Water Services Entities. We look forward to working with Government to strengthen this area of the reform proposals despite expressing that more time is needed to fully understand the impact on our Ratepayers of the proposed reforms.
“Minister Mahuta’s language indicates changes will be mandated on all Councils through legislation, with Community consultation limited to participation in a select committee process.
“While the Government has said no Council will be worse off through the reform process, these proposals contain multiple, and significant areas where the detail has yet to be developed. It is difficult to share the Government’s confidence in being no worse off when so much remains undecided.
“We will work with other Councils in the proposed Entity C area to ensure our voice is heard and that we are able to mitigate impacts on our Ratepayers and affected staff wherever possible.”
Rebecca Vergunst, Deputy Mayor
“Our Council made it clear through our feedback that we agreed the status quo is no longer viable but more work is needed to understand the impacts and opportunities of the reforms on our ratepayers. The Carterton community needs to have an opportunity to provide feedback on such significant changes to our Three Waters services.
“We expressed concerns in our letter to the Department of Internal Affairs about the proposed entity’s governance structure and accountability to communities and I’m pleased it appears central Government is committed to improving this through the technical working group.
“It’s important that rural councils are represented within these working groups to ensure the model works for smaller communities like ours.
“We still strongly recommend direct consultation with our Community, rather than relying on Parliament’s select committee process.
“A healthy and reliable water supply, sustainable waterways, along with rating affordability and democratic accountability are primary concerns for our Community and Council, and we look forward to working with Government and our local MP to ensure the best outcome for our community.”
The government signalled it wanted to shift to multi-regional (I.e. Lower North Island) organisations to manage water and council assets and debt as part of a reform aiming to improve the delivery of, and provide safe, reliable drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services.
To be part of that conversation, we needed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding [MoU] outlining how local and central government will work together, which also entitled us to $1.84m of funding which we could put towards water supply, waste water, or storm water. We signed the MoU in 2020.
Local authorities were then asked to review the reform package and the implications it has on our communities.
In August 2021, Councils were given eight weeks to considering the Government’s Three Waters Reform Programme, including their $2.5 billion support package, and to provide feedback.
Our feedback was broken down into:
- Things we agree with.
- Things that need further work.
- Things that we do not agree with.
Read our feedback:
Department of Internal Affairs factsheets
- Rural water supplies – Fact Sheet – Three Waters Reform Programme [PDF, 153KB]
- Feedback submissions from Councils: Summary of local government feedback on the three waters reform proposals [PDF, 2MB]
- Timeline: October 2021 to July 2024 – Three Waters Reform Programme [PDF, 646KB]