Three Waters Reform reset brings the community back into the picture

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A move to give local communities a greater degree of influence over their water services is being welcomed in the Western Bay.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Local Government Minister Kieran McAnulty’s revamped and renamed ‘Affordable Water Reform’ is headlined by the originally proposed four ‘mega entities’ being scrapped, and 10 regional water infrastructure entities to be formed in their place.

The 10 entities will be owned by local councils on behalf of the public, and entity borders based largely on existing regional areas – delivering Three Waters (freshwater, wastewater, and stormwater) services to households.

It means the Bay of Plenty will have its own entity, covering Rotorua Lakes, Kawerau, Ōpōtiki, Tauranga City, Western Bay of Plenty and Whakatāne.

Each entity would be run by a professional board, with members appointed on competency and skill. The 50/50 split of mana whenua and council representation remains unchanged.

Western Bay of Plenty Mayor James Denyer welcomes the reset on the Three Waters Reform as something which has the potential to create greater acceptance nationwide.

“Having only seen the highlights this morning, I’m pleased the Government has listened to councils and the community. It’s clear these changes reflect some criticism of the original proposal and that the mega-entities would not be close enough to the communities they serve.

“Providing every Mayor of every local authority with a seat at the table of their respective entity will guarantee the priorities of local communities are heard and make it easier to retain a local workforce.”

While the legislation will be in place before this year’s election the new model won’t start delivering water services until 1 July 2026. The 10 new regional entities have the option to begin before the 2026 date if they are ready.

The reform was initially set down for a 1 July 2024 implementation under the four mega-entities after the Government made the reform mandatory for all councils in 2021.

For more information on the Affordable Water Reform visit –www.westernbay.govt.nz/affordable-water-reform

Related: Commissioners’ Three Waters reform proposal

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