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‘Three Waters’ reform passed by Parliament

Legislation passed this week has given the green light to the ‘three waters’ reforms going ahead, signalling significant changes in the way water infrastructure is expected to be managed across New Zealand.

Wairarapa MP and Local Government Minister Kieran McAnulty said people in the region can expect better services at better prices as a result.

“Through the water service reforms, Wairarapa residents can expect more affordable, safer, more reliable, and more resilient water services,” he said.

“Wairarapa residents can expect average household costs for water services to decrease significantly.”

The Water Services Entities Amendment Bill, which passed on Wednesday [16 August], replaced the four water service entities originally proposed with 10, along with other changes to water infrastructure administration. ‘Three waters’ refers to drinking, stormwater, and wastewater.

McAnulty said councils have, on the whole, accepted the status quo was unsustainable. He said authorities expressed concerns with the original proposals, so he had made changes to increase local voice.

“These changes have made the reforms more accepted across the sector,” he said.

Under the new legislation, McAnulty said, water-related debt will be removed from councils’ balance sheets, which will help limit future rates increases.

“The new water service that will take over for the councils will have greater funding, meaning that they will be able to carry out the changes needed to ensure that our water system of drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater remains affordable, safe, and reliable heading into the future.

“This will help to keep water safe from contamination and ensure that pipes are resilient in the face of extreme weather events.”

McAnulty said councils had not wanted to maintain the status quo, which was unaffordable.

“As the local MP and Minister of Local Government, I am not willing to burden ratepayers with unaffordable bills,” he said.

When the bill was passed, McAnulty said moving from water services run by 67 councils to 10 water service entities means the new administrative bodies will have the increased size needed to access more funding and improve the management of services.

Feedback from local government had been useful in ensuring the legislation provided the certainty needed for water sector planning and employment and clarity for ongoing transition and implementation activities.

“Every ratepayer will be economically better off because of these changes versus doing nothing, keeping more money in the pockets of families,” McAnulty said. – NZLDR

    Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air


  1. Yes, but what are they doing about the asbestos fibers ongoing contamination of the metered water, caused through the continued use of banned asbestos cement pipes still in use in the water distribution network? You fill up a glass of water – there is asbestos fibers contamination in the hundreds of thousands, you wash your clothes in the washing machine – there is asbestos fibers contamination in the millions. When firefighters connect to fire hydrants, they unwittingly spread asbestos fiber contamination onto buildings, pavement, surrounding areas in the billions.

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