Three Waters Reform Programme NZ
Have you heard about the Three Waters Reform Programme currently proposed by NZ Government which will effect every New Zealander with the water they use in the daily lives? Find below a little more information showing both sides of the argument and details about an upcoming presentation in Whangarei that everyone should attend to seek further information about this hugely important issue.
Information from the Department of Internal Affairs
The delivery of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater – the three waters services – is changing.
All New Zealanders need safe, reliable drinking water, wastewater and stormwater – the three waters services. We depend on these for the health and wellbeing of our communities and our environment.
Why do we need reform?
The evidence shows as a nation we haven’t adequately maintained and improved our water service infrastructure. Without change, the safety, reliability and affordability of these services will lead to more New Zealanders getting sick from contaminated drinking water, more sewage spills and increases in cost.
How will our water services be improved?
The Government has worked with local government, iwi and water industry leaders to create a detailed, affordable plan to make sure our three waters system is in good condition to meet challenges like population growth, climate change and natural disasters.
Under this plan four new publicly-owned Water Services Entities will run New Zealand’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services – currently operated by councils on behalf of communities.
The Government’s plan will build these new Water Services Entities (WSEs) on the foundations of existing council infrastructure, people, and expertise. The plan is designed to give the new water organisations the financial flexibility to make the necessary upgrades more affordable for everyone.
The Water Services Entities Bill
The Government has introduced to Parliament the first piece of legislation to make these changes – the Water Services Entities Bill. As well as setting up the new entities so they can be ready in two years’ time, the Bill locks in council ownership of the WSEs on behalf of the communities, by making councils the sole shareholders. Councils will have one share per 50,000 people in their area, rounded up – so each council will have at least one share.
The legislation ensures communities will have a say in the running of the new water organisations through council and iwi oversight, while giving them the financial and operational independence they need to get on with the job.
Information from Whangarei District Council
In July 2020, the Government launched the Three Waters Reform Programme – a 3-year programme to reform local government three waters service delivery arrangements. You can read more about the programme on the Department of Internal Affairs website.
Government’s proposed reforms for Northland
Government is proposing that management of the three waters is transferred out of local government hands and into new entities. The northern most of these entities would cover Auckland, Whangārei, Kaipara and the Far North.
Initially councils were entitled to opt in or out of the reforms and Whangarei District Council announced that while we support reform where necessary, we do not think an entity to cover Auckland, Whangārei, Kaipara and the Far North is the right way to go, so we were opting out.
In October 2021, Government announced that Councils could no longer “opt out” of the reforms.
In November 2021, we joined with Timaru District Council and Waimakariri District Council to file a High Court application seeking clarification of what ownership means in relation to their ratepayer-funded water assets. Between them, these three councils have $1.76 billion in ratepayer funded water infrastructure.
In December 2021, our Council, Kaipara and the Far North District Council joined Communities 4 Local Democracy - He hapori mō te Manapori, a group of 23 councils who have banded together to express serious concerns about the Government’s Three Waters reforms.
The group’s numbers are growing as local councils consider the implications of the proposed legislation – in particular losing control of approximately $60 billion of community owned assets across the whole country.
Upcoming Tax Payers Union Three Waters Roadshow - Coming to a town near you!
With the support of our grassroots network, we'll be spreading the message directly within the local communities whose water assets Nanaia Mahuta is trying to remove from local control to put into 'co-governed' entities.
The roadshow will highlight just how unpopular these proposals are, put pressure on those few councils still holding out from resisting the Government, and pile the pressure onto Labour's provincial MPs who are the key to overruling Mahuta's undemocratic agenda.
While the media continue to run Mahuta's lines about Three Waters our people-powered effort is exposing why , and holding her to account. Come along to show your support.
We’ve decked out a campervan with ‘Stop Three Waters’ gear and, starting this Friday, will be meeting local ratepayers, mayors, councillors, and community leaders in 39 local centres across the country.
We’ll be holding old-fashioned soapbox events outside local councils and in town squares across the country. We are inviting local leaders to come and speak out against Nanaia Mahuta’s asset grab and sign our "Community Leaders' Appeal to Protect Local Democracy and Stop Three Waters" addressed to the Prime Minister.
And regardless of Three Waters, we're keen to meet Taxpayers' Union supporters like you across the country.
Coming to Whangarei
Saturday 2nd July 2022
3pm in Whangarei Town Basin
(outside Claphams Clock Museum)