Keeping The Community At The Heart Of Three Waters Services
A Council submission sent to MBIE this week (20 December) highlights many of the concerns raised by Tauranga communities around the Government’s three waters reform.
Now available on the Council’s website, the submission stresses that having rules around things like what prices the new entities can charge communities is essential in a non-competitive market. It also points out that up until now three waters services have been managed with a community focus and that any new regulator needs to dive deeper than just price and water quality. The current local government system includes social, cultural and environmental wellbeings and it’s crucial the new entities keep that broader focus.
The Council’s submission also drives home the message that Te Mana o te Wai, which recognises the vital importance of water to people and communities, must be woven across the entire design of any new legislation from the beginning, and that the economic regulator needs to have enough teeth to hold the new service entities to account.
From 1 July 2024, management of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater will be transferred from councils to four public-owned entities after the Government made council participation in the reform programme compulsory. The Government has since set up a National Transition Unit which will work with four local support entities to coordinate the transition as efficiently as possible and minimise disruption to communities.
In response to concerns raised by councils and communities across the country, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has set up a number of working groups, including a representation, governance and accountability group made up of 19 council and iwi representatives. This working group will report back to the Minister by 28 February 2022.
The Government is also developing a draft Water Services Entities Bill. Originally scheduled for Select Committee review this year, the Bill is now expected to go to the Select Committee next year, which will allow ministers to consider recommendations from the working groups before the Bill is introduced.