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Clear Message From Manukau Public On Water Issues

There is clear support for keeping our water supplies and water assets in public hands, Manukau Mayor Sir Barry Curtis said today. “And that is appropriate, given that water and sewage systems are a vital resource for any community.”

Manukau City Council has received an extremely strong response to the recent public consultation on the regional water review, which presents a variety of possible options for change in the future.

A total of 6,710 people took part in the consultation by sending back a questionnaire mailed to every home in the city.

The results show overwhelming support for keeping water and wastewater assets publicly-owned. 86% agree with this principle.

Other results showed:

- a regional management approach is preferred if it will save residents money (74% support)

- 89% support for the principle that people should pay for water based on what they use, and there was also strong support for “user pays” for wastewater charging based on water usage

- the most popular structural option for the industry is having one provider for all water services, publicly owned and controlled (43% support), followed by improving the current system (39% support)

- Option 4 (The People’s Option), was supported by 9% of respondents.

- there was widespread uniformity of response across the City on most of the key questions. There was no variation between high and low-income areas on the subject of “user pays”, with both communities strongly supporting the statement that “people should pay for what they use/dispose of”.

- 48% supported the current ownership structure used by Manukau City Council, a Council business unit, as the preferred way of delivering water services. A further 46% supported other Council-owned options. Only 6% supported having a private sector company as the provider.


“I believe this survey is a good snapshot of public opinion in Manukau, and gives us a strong indication of how our people feel about our water assets. The results give Manukau City Council a good base for our decision-making, and also confirms my long-held belief about how our water and wastewater systems should be run,” Sir Barry said.

“I am not surprised that there is such strong support for “user pays”, as it is the most sensible and fair system. It also encourages conservation and achieves the best environmental outcomes.

“But, whatever changes are made in the industry, I do want to see some provision for hardship. Water is an essential resource for every household, and there will be some people who will struggle to pay their water bills. Provision must be made for these cases.

“There must also be a strong watchdog organisation to ensure public accountability and maintain standards. Many of the current watchdogs monitoring other industries, such as the power industry, are basically toothless. We must give a future water industry regulator enough power to ensure that consumers’ rights are protected,” Sir Barry said.


Ends


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