Currently, councils own and operate the majority of drinking water, wastewater (sewerage) and stormwater services across New Zealand. That will likely change, as central Government intends to build a better system for our three waters, that will achieve lasting benefits for communities and the environment.
This would mean that management of New Zealand’s three water services would transfer from 67 local councils to four new, multi-regional entities. Those entities would remain in public ownership.
Councils throughout New Zealand were asked to assess the latest Government information over an eight-week review period and provide their feedback before 1 October.
Council and Tangata Whenua feedback and the results of an online community survey have been shared with Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta. Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts, we appreciate your input and will let you know when we know what the Government’s next steps are going to be.
Tauranga City Council, Community and Tangata Whenua feedback (294kb pdf)
Three Water’s Reform report (3.5mb pdf)
Key things you need to know about the Three Waters Reform (3mb pdf)
The big picture
We know our community expects to turn on the tap and have safe drinking water; to flush the toilet and have their sewerage taken to a treatment plant; and for rainwater to drain away without flooding. That’s the case now and that’s how it should remain in the future.
The good news is that Tauranga is in a fortunate position – we have invested sensibly in our three water services and will continue to do so. We are currently amongst the best water service providers in New Zealand. However, we also acknowledge that there are challenges in the provision of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater and by international standards there is still considerable work to do.
To ensure we are heading in the right direction, we have already moved to a shared model with our neighbouring council, Western Bay of Plenty District Council. Rising environmental standards and the pressures of growth will require continuing and significant investment to ensure that Tauranga stays ahead of the game – for the benefit of our communities and our environment.
The intent of nationwide water reform is to ensure that all New Zealand communities receive better service quality and more affordable water services. Tauranga City Council is participating in the reform process and supports its aims, but we have yet to make any decisions about our future involvement.
Initial discussions on the reform process began last year, as part of the Government’s post-COVID economic stimulus focus. Tauranga has been working with councils from the Waikato and Bay of plenty regions to identify the issues and opportunities a combined water entity might involve.
In our view, the three waters reform proposal offers an opportunity to create an effective delivery model, while ensuring that the significant national investment needed to build a better water future is available, when and where it is needed.
At the same time, we have identified a number of issues that we are actively raising with central Government on the community’s behalf.
- ensuring that our communities have an opportunity to provide local input into the reform process
- protecting our water assets against privatisation
- clarifying how we manage our water assets and staff during a transition period
- ensuring that Tauranga’s growth needs will be met in a timely fashion, and given appropriate consideration within Entity B’s priorities
- the impact of the reforms on stormwater, as the focus has mainly been on drinking water and wastewater.
Right now, we are carefully considering the potential impact of the reform, identifying areas of concern (like those above) and advocating for the best outcomes to meet the economic, social, cultural and environmental aspirations of our communities. We have until the end of September to provide our feedback to the Government.
Thank you to everyone who shared their feedback with us. We’ll be collating and presenting that feedback to our commissioners at the Council meeting on 4 October – you are welcome to listen in via our live stream. We’ll keep you posted on next steps as we hear more from the Government.