Waikato District Council submitted feedback to the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) this week on the proposed three waters reform. Following an eight-week period to weigh up the pros and cons the reform could bring, councillors met on Tuesday to discuss the information received from the DIA and consider the challenges.
The eight-week reflection period has provided Waikato District Council an opportunity to engage with other councils that would form the proposed Entity B in the reform. Mayor Allan Sanson has been an active participant in the cohort and has supported and coordinated discussions within the group.
“It has been valuable to discuss with fellow councils in the proposed Entity B the benefits that the reform could bring, as well as understanding the challenges.
As a group, we were able to share information, ask questions and propose solutions in relation to the reform process”, he said.
Waikato District Council agrees with the fact that some level of reform does need to happen, however we are not in a position to support the current proposal that the Government has put forward. No decisions have been made as to what Council would support.
The proposed reform would bring together the drinking water, stormwater and wastewater services currently delivered by 67 different councils across New Zealand, into four competency-based entities. These entities would remain firmly in public ownership.
The reform promises to provide transparency about the delivery and costs of the services provided, as well as hold the entities managing the three waters asset accountable.
Council wants to ensure that should the government proceed with the proposed reform; our local focus is preserved and our growth path is supported through the appropriate timing and provision of infrastructure.
Council is committed to our responsibilities under Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Te Ture Whaimana, and it is important that jobs and infrastructure development is retained locally.
It is also a priority for Council to engage with the community and understand all perspectives on reform. Should the government progress with the proposal, Waikato District Council would undertake a consultation process where residents of the district would have an opportunity to voice their opinions.
In the feedback to the DIA, Council has expressed concern that the governance arrangements of the proposed reform leave councils and mana whenua out of decision making, and it is unclear how much influence both parties would have.
Council now awaits the decisions from government which would inform any further steps of the proposed reform. In the meantime, it is business as usual, ensuring the residents across the Waikato district receive the best water services available.
For more information, please refer to the frequently asked questions page (FAQs) on the Waikato District Council website.