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Three Waters reform: Million-dollar sweeteners go

Wairarapa councils offered mixed reactions after the government quietly withdrew millions of dollars of promised water funding as part of its Three Waters shakeup, renamed the Affordable Water Reforms.

The government had promised every district “better-off funding” to spend on water upgrades as a sweetener for councils which would be losing control of their water assets as part of the reform.

The first tranche of funding was allocated in 2022, worth $500 million nationally; Masterton got $3.88 million, Carterton got $1.7 million, and South Wairarapa got $1.88 million.

Local Government Minister and Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty announced changes to the controversial reform at an event in Greytown last Thursday, saying the four water entities would now become 10 regional entities.

The second tranche of the better-off funding, worth $1.5 billion nationally, was withdrawn as part of these changes.

The second tranche would have been available from July 2024; it was worth $11.65 million to Masterton, $5.1 million to Carterton, and $5.63 million to South Wairarapa.

Masterton District Council allocated most of its first tranche of funding to wastewater renewals, and it had not yet Wairarapa councils offered mixed reactions after the government quietly withdrew millions of dollars of promised water funding as part of its Three Waters shakeup, renamed the Affordable Water Reforms.

The government had promised every district “better-off funding” to spend on water upgrades as a sweetener for councils which would be losing control of their water assets as part of the reform.

The first tranche of funding was allocated in 2022, worth $500 million nationally; Masterton got $3.88 million, Carterton got $1.7 million, and South Wairarapa got $1.88 million.

Local Government Minister and Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty announced changes to the controversial reform at an event in Greytown last Thursday, saying the four water entities would now become 10 regional entities.

The second tranche of the better-off funding, worth $1.5 billion nationally, was withdrawn as part of these changes.

The second tranche would be available from July 2024; it was worth $11.65 million to Masterton, $5.1 million to Carterton, and $5.63 million to South Wairarapa.

Masterton District Council allocated most of its first tranche of funding to wastewater renewals, and it had not yet

 

planned how to spend the second tranche [$11.65 million].

Chief executive David Hopman said the government’s decision to withdraw the funding would not impact the council’s work renewing pipes on Colombo Rd or Cockburn St.

Carterton District Council chief executive Geoff Hamilton said he was disappointed that the second tranche of funding had been withdrawn.

He said the council was working through the details of how the changes would impact staff, suppliers, and ratepayers.

“The single most important thing for our residents is clean, affordable water infrastructure where local needs are addressed and there is a continuity of service throughout the transition.

“In the meantime, the council will continue to focus on delivering the best waters infrastructure for our community and ultimately to the new Water Services Entity, as is possible,” he said.

South Wairarapa mayor Martin Connelly said the council had not yet decided what to do with the second tranche of funding.

He said many people misunderstood what the better-off funding was.

“It looked like a free gift, but it was actually going to be a debt for the four new entities, which ratepayers would eventually pay.

“The fact that it’s been withdrawn now means ratepayers will no longer need to service that debt.”

The government said that by 2054, Masterton ratepayers would save $6610 per year, Carterton ratepayers would save $6840 per year, and South Wairarapa ratepayers would save $11,470 per year, compared to the cost of water rates without any reforms. planned how to spend the second tranche [$11.65 million].

Chief executive David Hopman said the government’s decision to withdraw the funding would not impact the council’s work renewing pipes on Colombo Rd or Cockburn St.

Carterton District Council chief executive Geoff Hamilton said he was disappointed that the second tranche of funding had been withdrawn.

He said the council was working through the details of how the changes would impact staff, suppliers, and ratepayers.

“The single most important thing for our residents is clean, affordable water infrastructure where local needs are addressed and there is a continuity of service throughout the transition.

“In the meantime, the council will continue to focus on delivering the best waters infrastructure for our community and ultimately to the new Water Services Entity, as is possible,” he said.

South Wairarapa mayor Martin Connelly said the council had not yet decided what to do with the second tranche of funding.

He said many people misunderstood what the better-off funding was.

“It looked like a free gift, but it was actually going to be a debt for the four new entities, which ratepayers would eventually pay.

“The fact that it’s been withdrawn now means ratepayers will no longer need to service that debt.”

The government said that by 2054, Masterton ratepayers would save $6610 per year, Carterton ratepayers would save $6840 per year, and South Wairarapa ratepayers would save $11,470 per year, compared to the cost of water rates without any reforms.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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