The Government’s recent announcement on its proposed new Three Waters service delivery entities is very significant and also very concerning,” Marlborough Mayor John Leggett says.
“The Department of Internal Affairs has undertaken a large amount of work since commencing their investigation of the Three Waters sector several years ago. A new regulatory agency Taumata Arowai is already in place and will become the Three Waters regulatory body replacing the Ministry of Health.”
“Its focus will be on drinking water quality regulation and setting standards for storm and waste water discharges. The Government is also proposing that the delivery of drinking water, stormwater and wastewater will no longer be undertaken by New Zealand’s local authorities and is proposing four new large-scale water service delivery entities which they believe will be able to deliver Three Waters services to higher standards at lower cost.”
The Council’s website now has a section dedicated to the Three Waters Reform Programme and contains the key information the Government has published so far.
Go to our web page on Three Waters
“The proposals are complex and a significant body of Government work must be considered for Council to form its own view. Council staff are currently undertaking that analysis at pace to inform councillors and the community about the details,” Mayor Leggett says.
“We met with Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta just before the LGNZ conference here in Blenheim to express our concern about the proposed boundary split between entities C and D falling within Marlborough. No resolution has been proposed by the Government to date. We have also asked further, more technical questions of the Department of Internal Affairs about financial and levels of service projections to assist us.”
“On 16 September the Council will consider a full report on the water services entity proposals based on our knowledge at that date. Following that meeting a community engagement process will begin, subject to Covid-19 alert levels, and I hope that can include community drop-ins and meetings with community groups, as well as further communications to residents.”
“No decisions are required of the Council during September but it’s important that our community is fully informed and the Government made aware of concerns. I am extremely worried about the complexity of the proposals and the lack of Government-led engagement to date. This is putting a huge onus on councils. I believe Government decisions should not be rushed - the nation needs more time to fully understand the consequences of this major change in governance and delivery – it’s the Government’s plan and they need to explain it!”
“Earlier this week the Canterbury Mayoral Forum asked the Government to pause and wait for the review of local government functions to report back in October 2022 before making any final decisions on Three Waters entities. This pause would give the Government time to properly engage before Councils are required to make very far reaching decisions.”
The Government is expected to provide further details of the water service entity proposals in October 2021, including the legislative changes necessary to give effect to the new structures. The Hon Nanaia Mahuta has consistently said that councils will be given an ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ decision opportunity.
“The Local Government Act and the Council’s own policy requires a Long Term Plan amendment and a special consultative process to make the opt-in or opt-out decision. Council can only make those decisions after full public consultation.”
“Some councils have already made a decision to opt-out and others are already consulting their communities. We will consult the community, but not until we fully understand the effects on Marlborough and can accurately communicate them.”
“Council owes it to the public to have the most up to date and accurate information possible to ensure a high quality engagement process and ultimately a good decision.”