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Three Waters Reform


The Three Waters Reform has been launched by the Central Government to change the way that drinking water, wastewater and stormwater (the three waters) are managed and delivered to the community.

In Rangitīkei, these three services are currently delivered by Manawatū District Council under a shared services agreement with Rangitīkei District Council. The services provided are funded through rates. When the Reform is complete, there will be four new entities created that would take control of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater across New Zealand.

What will this mean for our District?

When the Reform is complete, Council will no longer deliver drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services to the community. Instead, the district of Rangitīkei will be managed by one of the four entities created - Entity B. This would include Rangitīkei and 22 other local authorities covering Taranaki, Bay of Plenty and the western side of the North Island through to, but excluding Auckland.

Transferring our water assets and debts to the new Entity means Councils will technically own the new Entity on behalf of the community, but won’t have any real control over the Entity.

Instead, our main role as one of these 22 councils will be to represent our communities to ensure the Entity meets their needs, and appoint the board of directors for the Entity. Iwi will also be part of this process.

Why is the Government doing this?

The Government’s position is that the new Entity will be allowed to borrow more money and have higher debt levels than councils are allowed - this will reduce the cost to individual households.

What does Rangitīkei District Council think of the Reforms?

We understand and support the need for change to how water is managed and delivered in New Zealand, however we, like nearly all Councils, have many concerns about the Reform which we have strongly voiced to the Government. Our Council has submitted strongly to say that we are not in favour of the legislation proposed by the Reform and that we disagree with the lack of future community involvement and decision making along with a number of other issues.

In August 2022, Mayor Andy Watson spoke to Rangitīkei District Council's submission at the NZ Parliament - Finance and Expenditure Committee.

We have the following areas of concern:

  • While the Council will be involved in the appointment of the new Entity Board, we are concerned that we will only have a small voice and won’t be able to influence such a large entity. As a result local Rangitīkei issues may not get the same level of attention.
  • We feel that there is a lack of public and mana whenua understanding of the Reform and believe that our communities have not had the proper engagement for such a significant change
  • It is unclear how issues will be resolved if decisions are made by the Entity that do not meet the needs of our communities.
  • It is unclear what the costs of this new service delivery will be for our community
  • Our community has had little say in transferring assets out of local ownership to these new, national entities
  • We are already significantly investing in Three Waters infrastructure through our Long Term Plan.

What happens now?

The New Zealand Government passed the Water Services Entity Bill in December 2022. It lays the groundwork for creating four water entities by July 2024.

We don’t know the next steps, but we are committed to keeping our community informed as the reform develops.

Want more information?

If you have more questions, the Department of Internal Affairs website has more information. Visit www.dia.govt.nz/Three-Waters-Reform-Programme.

Alternatively, an FAQ has been prepared by the Department of Internal Affairs that you can find here: https://www.dia.govt.nz/three-waters-reform-programme-frequently-asked-questions


Timeline

2016Havelock North campylobacter outbreak in which thousands of people were infected by drinking water from contaminated bores – four people died, and others were left permanently disabled.
2017Central Government inquiry into the Havelock North drinking-water contamination.
2017-2019Central Government’s Three Waters Review.
Dec 2019-March 2021Taumata Arowai is set up as a Crown Entity to regulate drinking water from late 2021.
May 2020Three Waters Steering Committee set up to oversee the Three Waters Reform Programme.
July 2020
  • Water Services Bill introduced, containing details of a new regulatory system. The Bill is expected to pass into law in late 2021.
  • Government financial package announced to improve water services delivery and to explore water reform in partnership with councils as part of a memorandum of understanding.
Aug 2020
Rangitīkei District Council signs the MoU with Central Government to supply detailed information on our current 3 waters infrastructure and operations to allow Central Government to explore water reform options.
Apr-June 2021
Central Government makes more detailed decisions about the Three Waters Reform proposal including:
Jun-ongoing
Central Government nationwide education campaign underway.
Aug-Sept 2021
  • Eight-week engagement period with Central Government to better understand the implications of reform for councils and communities.
  • Council workshops held and meets to discuss its response.
  • Resident survey SURVEY LINK
Oct-Dec 2021
Central Government announces the reform will proceed and is compulsory.
June 2022
Water Services Entity Bill is introduced into the House.
Sept 2022Rangitīkei District Council submits on the Water Services Entity Bill.
Nov 2022

Changes are made to the Water Services Entity Bill.

Dec 2022New Zealand Government passes the Water Services Entity Bill.
July 2024
New water entities will provide communities with three water services.