3 Waters Reform

Central Government is reviewing the regulation and supply of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater (the three waters) in New Zealand. The Three Waters Reform Programme is being led by the Department for Internal Affairs.

The review, which began in 2017 and was sparked by the  campylobacteriosis outbreak in Havelock North in 2016, and has already delivered new legislation and the creation of Taumata Arowai, a new Water Services Regulator, to oversee and enforce a new drinking water regulatory framework, with additional oversight of wastewater and stormwater networks.

Most three waters assets and services in New Zealand are owned and delivered by local councils.

While addressing the regulatory issues, both central and local government have identified under-investment in three waters infrastructure in parts of the country and persistent affordability issues for ratepayers, as well as the need for additional investment to meet improvements in freshwater outcomes and increase resilience to climate change and natural hazards.

The initial proposal was to hand water services from the 67 councils who currently manage services. into four big regional water authorities. One entity was proposed to cover the Ngāi Tahu takiwa (All of the South Island excluding Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman).

Ownership would remain with Councils (mandated by legislation) and there would be protection to ensure the water entities do not become privatised without a public referendum with a 75 percent threshold.

However,  on 14 December 2023 the  Government announced a new direction for water services.

On 12 February 2024 the Minister of Local Government Simeon Brown announced the establishment of a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to provide expert advice on the implementation of Local Water Done Well.

You can read the Minister’s press release here: Government advances Local Water Done Well - 12 February 2024

In December 2023 the Minister of Local Government Simeon Brown confirmed a new direction for water services policy and legislation Local Water Done Well.

On 12 February 2024 the Minister of Local Government Simeon Brown announced the establishment of a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to provide expert advice on the implementation of Local Water Done Well.

You can find more information on the Department of Internal Affairs Website.

What could it mean for Waimakariri?

The Three Waters reform programme will change the way critical water infrastructure and services are delivered in our District.

In Waimakariri we have heavily invested in our water infrastructure and security on behalf of our community and with our environment in mind.

Our water-related assets together have a value of $602 million, which is 29 percent of Council’s total assets (excluding land under roads).

Over the last 20 years we’ve invested over $100M in water infrastructure which is high quality and have a planned programme to ensure it stays this way. We have a 100 year strategy to fund these assets for our community.

A further $41 million is allocated in the Long Term Plan to support drinking water safety upgrades, improve our wastewater treatment infrastructure and address flood risks in our District.

Because of this investment, we are well positioned for the future.

Membership of Communities 4 Local Democracy - He hapori mo te Manapori

Communities 4 Local Democracy He hapori mo te Manapori is a local government action group committed to working with central government to ensure all New Zealanders have access to safe drinking water and that all of our local communities continue to have a say on the use of assets purchased on their behalf using ratepayer funds.

The group’s campaign is inclusive – it’s about safe drinking water for all New Zealanders – whoever and wherever they are.  It is also apolitical – we’re completely focused on the issue regardless of political affiliation.

Waimakariri District Council is a founding member of C4LD. Mayor Dan Gordon is Deputy Chair of the group. You can learn more about C4LD here.

Updated 13 February 2024

Mayors farewell failed Three Waters

Mayors from across New Zealand welcomed the repeal of Three Waters today.

Members of Communities 4 Local Democracy He Hapori mō te Manapori (C4LD) were in Wellington today to celebrate the legislation to repeal Three Waters being introduced to parliament.

Communities 4 Local Democracy (C4LD) Co-chairs Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon and Manawatu Mayor Helen Worboys were in the Speaker's gallery today to hear the introduction of the repeal bill.

Mayor Dan Gordon says the member councils were thrilled the new government had delivered on their campaign promise to repeal the unpopular reform.

“The coalition Government all campaigned on repealing Three Waters, and they were elected on a mandate that opposed centralisation and the forced removal of community water assets.

“C4LD put forward a community-led, common sense alternative for water reform that sees higher standards delivered throughout the country while making sure local community have control and say over their assets. We welcome working with the new government on this model.”

Co-Chair Manawatu District Mayor Helen Worboys was delighted the Government had finally listened to communities.

“I can’t remember a reform proposal this unpopular and flawed. We welcome the opportunity to take the reins on behalf of our communities and put in place locally-led solutions.

“'Local Water Done Well' continues the work done by C4LD. It protects community property rights in their water assets, recognises that different areas are in different positions, and it encourages regional collaboration to address these differing needs.

“This is a model that can work for all communities around New Zealand.”

As part of its advocacy work, C4LD developed a detailed alternative plan for reform that would deliver the necessary infrastructure investment while respecting community property rights.

Communities 4 Local Democracy has published all its work on future models of water reform. They can be accessed at communities4localdemocracy.co.nz/ideas

Media Contact:

Stephen Doran / 027 202 7784 / info@communities4localdemocracy.co.nz

You can find the Council's recent media releases relating to Three Waters Reform on the news page of the website.

Otherwise the Council has been advocating as part of Communities 4 Local Democracy (C4LD) throughout the reform process. You can find media releases from C4LD here.

Last reviewed date: 02 Apr 2024