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Kaipara District Council Opts In To Water Reform Discussions

Kaipara District Council Elected Members opted in to the first part of a reform of the three waters system when they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the end of August.

The Government-led programme has provided incentives for Councils to opt in, offering Kaipara a $2.35 million grant and a further $14.13 million to be allocated across Northland if the Council participates in the reform. Councils are able to opt out of discussions at any stage.

The proposal for reform comes in the wake of the Government Inquiry into the Havelock North Drinking Water issues where four people died and more than 5000 became ill after drinking water contaminated with campylobacter, and investigations by the Three Waters Review.

The reform process and funding proposed by Government is designed to support economic recovery post COVID-19 and address persistent systematic issues is providing drinking water, waste water and storm water services (three waters). It includes stimulating investment to assist economic recovery and maintain water infrastructure, and joint Central/Local Government investigation of proposals for consolidating current water service delivery into larger multi-regional providers to achieve economic, public and environmental benefits.

The Government’s starting intent is to create publicly-owned multi-regional water entities. This could potentially see Kaipara water management combined with other Northland Councils, Auckland and possibly further regions.

Kaipara Mayor, Dr Jason Smith, says there are many unknowns at present for this developing story and it’s uncertain when matters will become clear. He says elected members were concerned that Kaipara’s 23,000 residents may have to compete for resources alongside Auckland’s population of 1.6 million.

“By opting in we are choosing stay at the table, keep up with what Government is proposing and represent the best interests of Kaipara people” says Mayor Smith.

Elected members also discussed the impact the proposals may have long term on local democracy as water services and roading services form a large proportion of the Council’s work. Mayor Smith urges Kaipara people to keep abreast of the water reform proposals and ask questions of MPs to understand the impact the Government’s proposals may have on their properties, future water rates costs and district. Go to www.dia.govt.nz/Three-Waters-Reform-Programme to read more about the water reform programme.

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