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Three waters reform

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The Government’s Three Waters Reforms are shifting New Zealand’s waters services into four new entities across New Zealand.

The reform will see the delivery of Tauranga’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater transferred from Council to a new central North Island entity (Entity B) covering the greater Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and parts of Manawatū-Whanganui.

We will continue to manage Tauranga’s water services until the new entity is expected to come into place on 1 July 2024.

Share your thoughts on the Three Waters Reform

This is a Government mandated reform and there are a number of opportunities to share your feedback with the Government on the development of legislation.

Find out more about the next opportunity for feedback

Three waters entity map

Why the change?

Local Councils are facing significant challenges with the future management of drinking water, stormwater and wastewater services.

The Government has set out four key outcomes of the Three Waters Reform:

  • safe, reliable drinking water
  • better environmental performance of wastewater and stormwater services
  • efficient, sustainable, resilient and accountable multi-regional water and sewage services
  • making it affordable for future generations.

To read more about the Government’s three waters reform programme visit the Three Waters website

What does this mean for Tauranga?

While Tauranga City Council is delivering some of the best water services in New Zealand, we can still see challenges that need to be addressed.

With the details of the Reform yet to be finalised, we are focusing on preparations to best position our Council with the timeframes for change we have been given. While we agree with the intent of the Reform, we have raised a number of concerns on behalf of our community. We will engage with the Government and working groups at every opportunity to ensure our local issues are considered.

How the water assets will be owned in the new structure

The water assets, along with any associated debt, will be transferred to the new entity. The new entity will be publicly owned through the allocation of shares to all councils who transfer assets.

This means that the change will free up debt for Tauranga City Council significantly improving the financial situation for Council.

Tangata Whenua

We recognise and support the need for iwi/Māori to work alongside council to ensure that any reform doesn’t adversely impact existing rights and interests. We also see value in the perspective Tangata Whenua can offer as the reforms unfold.

A partnership brings the opportunity to incorporate the value of mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge)  to facilitate the best outcomes for New Zealand communities. The reform provides an opportunity to start this process side-by-side.

The reform is aimed at delivering the outcomes of Te Mana o te Wai, a set of principles co-designed with iwi/Māori to lift the water quality of our streams, rivers and lakes. 

Locally, we have committed to working in partnership with Te Rangapū Mana Whenua o Tauranga Moana (the representative group for our iwi and hapū in the Tauranga City Council area).

Transitioning to the new entities 

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has established a National Transition Unit (NTU) to focus on the practical implementation of the reforms. This unit will work with the local government sector, iwi, water industry and other stakeholders to transition to the new arrangements. 

We are being proactive in getting involved with transition discussions to see the best outcome for Tauranga’s people, our environment and future generations.

Concerns from our community 

Central Government asked councils to seek feedback from their communities on the Three Waters reform proposal in late 2021. The results of an online survey for our Tauranga community were used to develop feedback sent to central government in September 2021.

View the 2021 Three Waters reform feedback 

The concerns raised by the community have been summarised into ten themes, and we are using these themes as the basis for our feedback to government.

Read more information about these concerns, and their current status.(37kb pdf)

Questions and answers

‘Three Waters’ is the delivery and management of clean drinking water; wastewater (sewerage) reticulation, treatment and disposal; and stormwater management.

Because councils are facing challenges in the provision of quality water services to meet the growing demands of their communities.

In particular:

  • funding the necessary infrastructure, such as water and wastewater treatment plants, pipes, etc
  • complying with safety standards and environmental expectations
  • building resilience to natural hazards and climate change into three waters networks
  • supporting growth – more people, means more demands on infrastructure.

The effective delivery of waters services is essential for our communities and includes:

  • safe drinking water, safe disposal of wastewater and effective stormwater drainage
  • adequate supply of cost-effective waters services for housing, businesses and community services
  • well-managed extraction of drinking water, and careful disposal of treated wastewater and stormwater so that our environment is protected.

Evidence shows that significant national investment is needed to continue to offer effective water service delivery. If the model stays as it is (council-ownership and management), service quality will be variable, and services will become unaffordable for many New Zealanders. Reform will enable communities across New Zealand to benefit from scale and operational efficiencies, making it more cost-effective in the long-run.

The reform would mean a significant change for council, and for the way drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services are delivered to our community in the future.

Tauranga is going to be part of a central North Island entity (known as ‘Entity B’) involving 22 councils in the greater Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and Manawatu-Whanganui areas.

A key building block of the reform will be a partnership with tangata whenua, in accordance with the principles of the Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

The reform is also aimed at delivering the outcomes of Te Mana o te Wai, a set of principles co-designed with iwi/Māori to lift the water quality of our streams, rivers and lakes. 

A partnership brings the opportunity to incorporate the value of mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) alongside western systems to facilitate the best outcomes for New Zealand communities. The reform provides an opportunity to start this process side-by-side.

We recognise and support the need for iwi/Māori to work alongside council to ensure that any reform doesn’t adversely impact existing rights and interests. We also see value in the perspective tangata whenua can offer as the reforms unfold

Locally, we have committed to working in partnership with Te Rangapū Mana Whenua o Tauranga Moana (the representative group for our iwi and hapū in the Tauranga City Council area).

Water is a utility business (like electricity or telecommunications) and, if it were separated from councils, specialist water entities would be able to sustainably borrow more money to invest in services, leaving councils with better balance sheet capacity to meet community needs.

This is considered best practice in delivering infrastructure services.

Timeline

  • Our feedback to the Government was sent. See our feedback.

    End of September 2021
  • The Government announced council participation in the reforms will be compulsory.

    27 October 2021
  • Working Group of council and iwi representatives established.

    Late Oct/Nov 2021
  • Working group reports back to the Minister of Local Government with recommendations.

    9 March 2022
  • Government accepts 44 of the 47 recommendations to change reform programme.

    29 April 2022
  • Submissions on the Water Services Entity Bill close.

    22 July 2022
  • Next Water Services Entity Bill expected.

    After September 2022

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