At the 23 September 2021 meeting, Council discussed the Three Waters reforms. A feedback letter was approved by elected members to send to Central Government. This letter can be read here.
Prior to the last election, the Government announced its intention to undertake reforms to improve the regulation and supply of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater (the three waters) in New Zealand. The reform process began in July 2020.
This focus on reforms followed the Government Inquiry into Havelock North Drinking Water.
For a number of years, Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) has advocated for change to the delivery of good quality, safe, and affordable water services across New Zealand. LGNZ has asked the Government to partner in a new approach.
The Government has announced the basis of its reform proposal and is seeking feedback from Councils before progressing to the next steps. The reform is being led by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).
What's happened so far?
Council agreed to participate in the initial stage of the programme in August 2020. By signing an MOU to start discussions relating to the Three Waters, Council received funding to support operating or capital expenditure in Three Waters service delivery. This also aided economic recovery from the COVID-19 lockdowns, through job creation.
In February 2021, Nelson City Council, along with every other council in New Zealand, provided council specific information on our infrastructure to DIA so our region could be considered under a series of alternative three waters proposals.
This information was used to develop the proposal that was announced by Government on 15 July 2021.
Nelson has been grouped in Entity C. The information released also summarised Nelson's 3 waters operations and the implications of moving to the new entity. (Note: this is not a sale of assets - it is proposed the new entities will remain in public ownership).
Please note: the unplanned interruptions information is not correct for Nelson.
As a Council, we will be working to make sure that the best possible outcome is achieved for Nelson.
Feedback on the proposal has been developed and approved at the 23 September Council meeting. This will be sent to Central Government by 1 October 2021.
To develop that feedback, we engaged with iwi, our neighbouring councils, and the council grouping that forms Entity C under the proposal. We also held webinars (due to COVID-19 Alert restrictions).
We are at the start of that process, not the end. Any change to how three waters infrastructure is delivered would require the new legislation. If the government decides to proceed, all Nelsonians will be able to make submissions in support or otherwise. Please note that we are not being asked to make a decision now.
Central Government will let councils know what the next steps are after they have considered the feedback received.
FAQ: Focus on Nelson
FAQ: From Webinars
The Department of Internal Affairs has also produced some FAQ's about the reforms.
FAQ's relating to the dashboards can be found on the DIA website.