Three Waters Reform
The Government has announced it will make its Three Waters reform mandatory for all councils, rejecting the option to make it voluntary for councils. The reform will see the management of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater transferred from 67 councils to four public-owned entities.
The announcement means Western Bay of Plenty District Council could be part of a central North Island entity involving 22 councils in the greater Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and parts of Manawatū-Whanganui. The change would not come into place until 2024 and councils will continue to manage three waters until then.
As part of the reform Council would receive $21.3 million out of the $2.5 billion Three Waters Reform package.
On Wednesday 27 October Government announced it will make its Three Waters reform mandatory for all councils, rejecting the option to make it voluntary for councils. The reform will see the management of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater transferred from 67 councils to four public-owned entities from 1 July 2024.
From a Council perspective, this mandate is disappointing given Council bought into this reform process because it was optional and we wanted to do right by our community, whichever our final decision.
Unlike some councils Western Bay has been a good steward of its infrastructure, investing in water networks and treatment plants and in turn providing a good service to its residents.
We will continue to seek clarity on the serious concerns we identified in the draft proposal through Government’s new working groups of council and iwi representatives who will work on developing solutions around governance, representation, and accountability and how the new entities will respond to changes in land use planning.
We want assurance that the Western Bay will get its voice and needs heard and be not overridden by bigger councils or those with bigger problems that need resolution.
While this reform is Government-led, we appreciate our community will be looking to us for answers about how it might affect them and to represent their concerns about the reform.
We can do this by focussing on the outstanding issues that Government wants to resolve through the working groups. How we can influence these working groups will become clear once they are set up.
We can then identify the most effective way to collate your feedback, express the community’s views to Government and advocate for our District’s interests. You’ve told us how you wish to have a Three Waters conversation – how it is explained, and by who, and how you wish to provide feedback to Council – and this will form part of the overall approach
Frequently asked questions
The Three Waters Reform programme sets out to improve the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders. It will improve the safety, quality, and environmental performance of water, wastewater and storm water services in a way that is considerably more affordable per household than what is projected without reform.
This reform will bring together three waters services, currently delivered by 67 different councils across New Zealand, into four competency-based water services entities. These entities will remain firmly in public ownership (by the communities they serve).
The reform will improve our ability to address contamination of urban streams, lakes and coastal environments through sewer overflows and other unauthorised discharges and storm water run-off.
Reform will also improve transparency about, and accountability for, the delivery and costs of these services and uphold the Crown's Treaty of Waitangi obligations to iwi/Māori.
Because councils are facing challenges in the provision of quality water services to meet the growing demands of their communities.
- funding the necessary infrastructure, such as water and wastewater treatment plants, pipes, etc
- complying with safety standards and environmental expectations
- building resilience to natural hazards and climate change into three waters networks
- supporting growth – more people, means more demands on infrastructure.
The effective delivery of waters services is essential for our communities and includes:
- safe drinking water, safe disposal of wastewater and effective stormwater drainage
- adequate supply of cost-effective waters services for housing, businesses and community services
- well-managed extraction of drinking water, and careful disposal of treated wastewater and stormwater so that our environment is protected.
Evidence shows that significant national investment is needed to continue to offer effective water service delivery. If the model stays as it is (council-ownership and management), service quality will be variable, and services will become unaffordable for many New Zealanders. Reform will enable communities across New Zealand to benefit from scale and operational efficiencies, making it more cost-effective in the long-run.
The reform would mean a significant change for council, and for the way drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services are delivered to our community in the future.
Under the Government’s draft proposal Western Bay of Plenty District Council could be part of a central North Island entity involving 22 councils in the greater Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and parts of Manawatū-Whanganui. Boundaries will be confirmed in September 2021, following further discussion with councils and iwi.
If the reform goes ahead, any change would only come into place in 2024, so we would continue to manage water services until then.
Council has done a good job investing in water infrastructure and in turn providing a good service to our residents.
Our infrastructure is in a good state and this reflects the major investments we have made in the past. Our assets are modern and well maintained and we are committed to ensuring this continues now and into the future.
However, expert research and international experience shows a different national structure will allow us to do even better. Like most areas in New Zealand, we also need to invest a lot more, and meet new compliance and environmental levels in the future. The reform programme is designed to significantly reduce future costs to ratepayers.
Department of Internal Affairs
- The latest Government information and releases is uploaded to the Department of Internal Affairs website here.