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MDC boss voices concerns about stormwater management

MDC chief executive David Hopman and Mayor Lyn Patterson presenting a submission to the Government’s Water Services Entities Bill. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Masterton District Council’s [MDC] boss has warned of a fractured stormwater management system if Three Waters reform goes ahead in its current form.

MDC chief executive David Hopman and Mayor Lyn Patterson presented their council’s submission to the Government’s Water Services Entities Bill this week.

Hopman told the Finance and Expenditure Committee that stormwater should be removed from the bill.

This would leave two waters for the new water service entities to manage: drinking water and wastewater.

“Stormwater is going to be the most challenging aspect of the three waters for the new entity,” Hopman said.

“Effective stormwater management involves multiple factors: subdivision planning, district plan rules, building consents and how they are granted and monitored, roading networks, maintenance and design, the stormwater networks themselves, and then retention dams, urban streams, and rivers.

“They are all required for effective stormwater management, and they have to all work together.”

He said soak pits and water races were also effective stormwater management assets and that under the proposal, “those assets aren’t going to be transferred”.

“Fracturing the responsibilities for these different assets is going to cause some problems that I don’t think have been considered by the Government and certainly not within this bill.”

He estimated about 20 per cent of Masterton’s assets used for stormwater management would be transferred to the new water services entity.

“But it is clear we will be left with a majority of those assets, such as the roads, soak pits, urban streams, to be maintained by us and be our responsibility.

“There’s going to be real challenges there on where our responsibilities start and the new entity’s responsibilities end.”

He said MDC recommended that stormwater be removed from the bill at this stage, “until the details have been sufficiently considered”, and that central and local government “work together towards an effective, integrated solution for stormwater management”.

Patterson said MDC remained concerned about how Masterton’s voice and representation would be given effect in the Regional Representative Group [RRG].

She said her experience of working regionally was that work was dominated by metro councils such as Wellington City, “and the voices of our rural and provincial councils can be lost”.

She also said affordability did not appear to be a primary focus during the transition phase.

“We have no control or say over the costs that are currently being incurred and will continue to be incurred through the transition phase.

“Under Schedule 1, Clause 26, the Crown can transfer all of those costs to the water services entity, which will ultimately have to be paid for by our residents.

“We strongly believe that the costs incurred by the Crown should be met by the Crown and that it is an unfair burden to transfer those costs when council and our community have had no say.”

Masterton councillor Tina Nixon was a representative for the Councils for Local Democracy group, which submitted to the select committee, and the Water Users Group, of which she is a board member. – NZLDR

  • Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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