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Extraordinary Council Meeting To Discuss Government's Proposed Three Waters Reform

Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) is holding an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday 28 September to discuss and agree a draft position statement on the Three Waters Reform.

Central government has asked for Council feedback on its proposed reform, which would see all council-run drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater transfer from local councils to one of four new water entities across Aotearoa New Zealand.

QLDC Chief Executive Mike Theelen said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss Council’s position and shape its future involvement in the reform process, however it was not a formal opt-in or opt-out decision.

“The request from government for feedback on the reform is optional and councils have not been asked for any formal decisions about continued participation in the reform programme at this stage,” he said.

“Councillors will be considering the government’s latest proposal and information on the reform, including data and modelling that Council has received to date, as well as the implications of the proposed reform on community wellbeing. Council will be considering a position statement that will form the basis of the feedback we provide to the government,” Mr Theelen said.

A range of recommendations will be considered, including about the pace, timeline and integration of the proposal within other significant reforms such as the Resource Management Act and review of Local Government. The proposed governance model, and the proposal’s implications for emissions reduction, regenerative approaches, and carbon accounting will also be addressed.

Issues with the technical and fiscal modelling of the proposed reforms will be discussed, including recommendations to better reflect the district’s high visitor numbers in addition to the resident population.

To date, the Mayors and Chairs of Otago Southland, including Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult, have written to the Minister of Local Government to express their concern about a lack of information, and to formally request a pause to the process to allow councils time for meaningful engagement with their communities.

“QLDC fully supports the government’s intention to ensure that all New Zealanders have access to safe, clean water, and that our environment is protected and regenerated as a priority. But it’s also vital we have a clear understanding of whether the proposed approach is right for our district,” Mayor Boult said.

Council is required to provide feedback to the Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua by 1 October 2021.

The government is then expected to announce next steps which will likely include details on implementation of the proposals, timeframes and responsibilities for any community or public consultation, and transition arrangements.

Council’s extraordinary meeting will take place at 1.00pm, Tuesday 28 September, in the Council Chambers at QLDC’s Gorge Road offices and be streamed live via Facebook @QLDCinfo.

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