About the Three Waters Reform
The Government’s Three Waters Reforms are shifting New Zealand’s waters services into four new entities across New Zealand.
The reform will transfer the delivery of Taupō District’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater from Council to a new central North Island entity (Entity B) covering the greater Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and parts of Manawatū-Whanganui.
Once the Water Services Entities Bill is enacted (expected late 2022), control of water services will start to transition to Entity B, and the Government will have oversight of three waters-related decisions. Taupō District Council will continue to manage day-to-day operations of Taupō’s water services until the new entity is expected to come into force on 1 July 2024.
What is the Water Services Entities Act?
The Water Services Entity Act become law on the 14 December 2022. It is the first of three pieces of three waters reform legislation. This act focuses on the establishment of the four new water services entities; how they will be owned, and who will have influence and oversight.
The Water Services Legislation Bill
On 8 December 2022 the government introduced the second of three pieces of legislation to reform how three waters services are delivered in New Zealand - the Water Services Legislation Bill.
The Water Services Entities Legislation Bill will provide the new Water Services Entities the legal functions, responsibilities, and powers to enable them to take over the delivery of three waters services from local government on 1 July 2024.
It includes recognition and respect of the Crown’s Te Tiriti o Waitangi responsibilities and also recognises the importance of local water services for rural communities.
The Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill
On 8 December 2022 the government introduced the third of three pieces of legislation to reform how three waters services are delivered in NZ – the Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill.
A third piece of legislation, the Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill provides a detailed longer-term aims to ensure Water Services Entities are held to account for providing consumers with a decent level of service when they have queries or complaints.
The Bill will establish a Water Services Commissioner within the Commerce Commission as a public watchdog to promote consumer interests.
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.
Find out more about Taupō District Council's views on the Three Waters Reform
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.