Council Considers Benefits of Three Waters Reform

Today Waimakariri District Council starts asking residents their views on the Government’s proposed Three Waters Reforms.

The Government is proposing that three water (drinking water, waste water and storm water) services move from the 67 councils, who currently manage these, into four large entities.

If the reform goes ahead, Waimakariri District would become part of an entity that covers most of the South Island. The Government has given councils until the end of September to provide feedback on the proposal.

Mayor Dan Gordon says the fundamental question is: ‘Will the reform proposal benefit the Waimakariri Community?’

“The Council’s position remains that, based on the limited information presented so far, we do not join the Government’s reform programme at this point. We are not convinced that there are benefits for the Waimakariri community but importantly we need to hear from the community before reaching a formal decision.

“You may have read in the local papers your Council’s issues regarding these reforms. These are based on the concern that councils such as Waimakariri, which has excellent infrastructure, will be subsidising those who haven’t. We are also concerned at the proposed Governance and Management structure and the probability that we will have little influence in the future.”

“I don’t think anyone is fundamentally opposed to discussing new ideas and ways of doing things. But rushed reform without adequate time to consider the consequences, and without listening to those affected, is in no one’s interest.

“We all agree that quality drinking water and environmental outcomes are a good thing for the country. But at the moment it’s not clear whether the proposed reforms are the best way to achieve this, and what the advantages are for our District.

“Our concerns include matters such as fair compensation for these public assets, the accuracy of the Government’s projections, future costs for ratepayers, planning co-ordination, local representation, responsiveness during natural disasters, and more generally about the pace and urgency of the reform process.

“At the moment we think there is only one-side being presented and we want locals to understand what these reforms could mean for them if we take part in this water reform process. We have a duty to hear from our residents before making such a significant decision,” says Mayor Gordon.

The Council is encouraging residents to head online (waimakariri.govt.nz/letstalk) from 17 August to learn more about the pros-and-cons of reform and share their feedback before 5 September.

Ratepayers will receive a letter this week and residents will see newspaper, online, social media and radio advertising over the coming three weeks seeking their feedback.

“Up until 5 September Councillors including myself will also be holding drop-in sessions around the District for residents to ask questions or clarify information. Event details are on the Council’s Facebook page

“We have laid out what the Government are trying to achieve, what the concerns of the Council are, and key statistics that paint a clear picture of how water services in Waimakariri are performing.

“We’re asking residents to read through this info, think about what is important to them, and share their views.”

Further information and previous updates can be found on the Three Waters Reform page.