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Councils Taking Joined-up Approach To Water

Joint statement from MoU councils:

All councils in the Wellington region and Horowhenua are committed to working together on developing a plan to reform water services.

The Government’s new Local Water Done Well policy is still being developed, but indicates that by mid-2025 councils will be required to produce water service delivery plans that meet regulatory and investment requirements.

At meetings over the past six weeks Wellington City, Hutt City, Upper Hutt City, Porirua City, Carterton District, Kapiti Coast District, Masterton District, South Wairarapa District, Horowhenua District and Greater Wellington Regional Council agreed to sign a joint Memorandum of Understanding that will create a non-binding partnership between councils to work together on a water service delivery plan. The last of these meetings was held yesterday [11 April], meaning all councils in the region are now committed to collaboration.

Hutt City Mayor and chair of the Wellington Water Committee Campbell Barry said a unified approach is crucial to get the best solutions for water in the region.

"Councils around the country are facing similar challenges. That is why we need to work together towards a new model to make funding and delivery of water infrastructure more sustainable and efficient in the long run for our communities.

"We are committed to working with other councils across the region to provide resilient water networks and deal with population growth."

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Mayor Barry said he was looking forward to councils actively working together and getting ahead of the game. "Change is coming and by working together we can help shape and guide the change. We’re all facing challenges and we all want what’s best for our people".

Under the MoU, one elected member from each council will sit on an Advisory Oversight Group (AOG) for the joint water service delivery plan process, alongside iwi/Māori partner representatives.

The AOG will be chaired by independent expert Dame Kerry Prendergast, and supported by chief executives and a joint project team. Dame Kerry has extensive local government experience. She began her political career in 1986 as a Tawa Borough Councillor, and served on Wellington City Council from 1989 to 2010, including three terms as Mayor. She also has wide experience as a board chair.

"This joint approach shows real commitment and intent by all the councils in region. I am looking forward to robust conversations as we work together to develop a step change in water solutions for our region."

The first meeting of the AOG is scheduled for 10 May, with the goal of agreeing a concept model for future delivery by August. Depending on legislation which is expected to be introduced in May, the model will be subject to public engagement, and will provide the basis for development of the water services plan.

The region’s approach was also tested with Local Government Minister Simeon Brown and Infrastructure Minister Chris Bishop at the mayoral forum on 22 March.

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