About the Water Services Reform
Water services – including drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater – are currently managed by 67 councils across New Zealand. The Government’s Water Services Reform programme is creating regional entities to manage these water services.
The previously-planned four Water Services Entities (WSE) will now become 10 WSEs. These 10 new WSEs will be based around already existing regional council groupings.
Taupo District Council is now grouped with eight other district councils and Hamilton City Council in the geographic boundary of the Waikato Regional Council. The other district councils are Waikato, Waipā, Thames-Coromandel, Matamata-Piako, Hauraki, Ōtorohanga, South Waikato and Waitomo.
All legislation for Water Services Reform now law
The final three bills of the Water Services Reform’s suite of legislation (four in total) passed through Parliament in August 2023. This means all bills relating to reforming three waters services across New Zealand are now law and the legal mandate to transition three waters services from Councils to Water Services Entities is established.
To learn more about the reform visit the Water Services Reform website.
Why is reform needed?
Developing, operating and maintaining Three Water services is expensive and local authorities are limited by how much they can borrow. This has meant that funding large upgrades in water supply, wastewater, or stormwater can result in significant increases to local authority rates, which councils are often reluctant to do.
The resulting under-investment has meant that, across New Zealand, the Government estimates a further $120 billion to $185 billion is needed in three waters infrastructure over the next 30 years, over and above that which is already planned for. Some change is needed to enable this investment to be funded.
The Government's stated objectives for reform
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.
Taupō District Council shares the above objectives, however it does not agree with the way the Government is progressing reform without hearing its communities' voice, or the reform model being proposed.
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.
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 participating with transition discussions to seek the best outcomes for the Taupō District.