This week alone I have spent more than 12+ hours diving into the detail of the Three Waters reform alongside other Mayors, planners and subject specialists. They are tough conversations. It's a political hot potato for sure. However, these conversations are critical.
I won’t roll over and be tickled. I want what’s best for Hamilton. I am diving in deep to understand the draft proposal and to influence Government’s next steps. Unless we do, Hamilton's voice might not be heard.
This is a complex piece of work and there’s a lot questions. It is challenging to share information, work at pace and provide the best platform way for you to have a say when the Government announces its final proposals.
So let's talk.
Let's talk WHY? Why is reform being considered?
Water contamination, whether it be drinking water, wastewater or, our much loved rivers and lakes, is simply NOT acceptable. Not to me and not to most New Zealanders. We are a small country and we need to safely drink water everywhere. But that is not always the case.
In 2016 there was a serious issue of water contamination in Havelock North. Four people died and 1000's of people fell ill after the town's water supply was contaminated. The costs were huge...more than $21 million.
$12.4M related to household inconvenience (boiling water, buying bottled water, taking time off normal activities)
$4.1M local government costs
$2.5M health-related costs
$1.3M costs to business
$0.5M central Government costs
Unfortunately, this wasn't the first case of contamination. Across new Zealand E-coli, Giarida and more recently lead have affected the health of New Zealanders. And this will continue as some areas simply cannot afford to fix their water supplies.
In Hamilton we have a very high quality water and waste water system although, it is not clear if we will meet the future standards for storm water as required by Government. But we need to consider if, and how, we contribute to the economic and social wellbeing of new Zealand as a whole.
There are compelling economic reasons for us to consider:
Here is the Department of Internal Affairs dashboard for Hamilton (based on data supplied by our water and planning staff):
Read the Government Fact Sheet - Department of Internal Affairs here
Or Click on the Link below for an easy to read fact sheet.
Let's talk WHAT - how could water be managed going forward?
The Government's proposal is to establish four publicly-owned entities ( see map below) to manage drinking water, wastewater and storm water infrastructure across New Zealand. They believe will save ratepayers thousands of dollars and better ensuring the $120 to $185 billion investment required across NZ for water services can be made.
Local authorities would be the owners of the entity, on behalf of their communities. The entities operate three waters infrastructure on behalf of territorial authorities – they would hold three waters assets and associated debt.
The assets are NOT proposed to be "sold" – the new entities would be collectively owned by councils, on behalf of communities
The newly created regulator – Taumata Arowai – will enforce existing standards, with significant penalties proposed, including fines and criminal proceedings. The Water Services Bill is going through parliament right now.
An economic regulator will also be introduced. The purpose is to ensure it’s no longer possible to under invest, or to charge consumers too much or to deliver poor quality service.
The website below is very useful : https://www.russellmcveagh.com...
Want to know more?
This blog is part of a series of 4 aimed to share with you some of what I know AND to begin much needed conversations on Three Water Reform.
Find all 4 blogs on