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Greater Wellington Backs Local Government Water Declaration

Greater Wellington gets behind local government water declaration

Greater Wellington has today added its signature to the Local Government Leaders’ Water Declaration, which reiterates the sector’s commitment to water quality and calls for greater action from central government.

“We’ve signed the water declaration because water is a key issue for New Zealanders. Lifting the quality of freshwater resources and improving our drinking, waste and stormwater will require a huge and collaborative effort and the Water Declaration is local government’s commitment to playing its part in achieving these goals,” says Greater Welling ton chair Chris Laidlaw.

The Local Government Leaders’ Water Declaration acknowledges the increasing importance of water to New Zealanders. It follows a climate change declaration launched in July and recognises the interlinked nature of what are two major issues for New Zealand.

It builds on the Local Government New Zealand’s Water 2050 project initiated this year. Water 2050 will underpin the need to think about water in a holistic way, raising the cost implications of investment in drinking, waste and storm water assets and services to meet increased standards for water quality, and outlining the need for a national conversation on costs and new funding tools.

Councils around the country are at the forefront of water management and protection, including through the delivery of drinking water and the provision of waste and storm water services, to the management of water quality and quantity.

Clr Laidlaw says Greater Wellington is a leader in working with regional communities to identify how they value freshwater, the quality standards that will be accepted by them and how water will be managed.

“Our unique whaitua, or catchment based, approach gives everyone the opportunity to get involved in this most important of issues. Whaitua committees of local people and stakeholders currently operate in Wairarapa and Porirua, and will be extended to the Hutt Valley next year and other catchments later on. They are truly bringing the voice of the people into the policy making mix.

“We’ve also been working closely with Wellington Water to secure the safety of our drinking water and ensure its sourcing and distribution systems are resilient. We need to guard its quality and ensure its availability,” says Clr Laidlaw.

“Greater Wellington also provides essential water quality monitoring services for the region, distributing key information on freshwater habitats to promote biodiversity as well as data on where it’s safe to swim.

“However, there is a need for greater effort to achieve the results New Zealanders want to see, and Greater Wellington will continue to work with the community, stakeholders, businesses and central government to achieve results which are in line with community expectations.

“In taking the quality of our freshwater to the next step, and building in the resilience we so desperately need, Greater Wellington strongly urges the new government to work with regional councils to agree relative contributions, including cost sharing, from central and local government.”

The Declaration outlines a number of local government commitments. These include:

• improving the water in our regions with, and for, our people and future generations;

• ensuring that those people who have the privilege of using our water do so responsibly; and

• working with our communities so that the costs and priorities for investment in infrastructure to provide a secure supply of water and maintain and improve water quality are clearly understood.

The Declaration also outlines key steps for the new Government, including by:

• recognising the interlinked nature of all water, whether natural rivers, lakes, streams or groundwater and drinking water, stormwater or wastewater, and reflect this in coherent, integrated water policy;

• acknowledging the impact climate change will have on our water resources and developing policy options to address these; and

• working with local government on a plan to meet these costs and develop new tools for funding and financing infrastructure.

ENDS


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