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Input sought on three waters reform proposal

Tauranga City commissioners. Photo: John Borren/SunLive.

Tauranga City Council commissioners are calling for community input to include in feedback to the Government on its three waters reform proposal.

Commission Chair Anne Tolley says the reform proposal is complex and much of the detail still has to be finalised, but potentially, it does offer an effective model for delivering high quality and affordable drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services.

“Research indicates that over the next three decades, huge investment will be required to ensure all New Zealand communities continue to have the safe, effective and sustainable water, wastewater and stormwater services they need,” she says.

“The fact is that the bar is continually being raised as new health and environmental standards evolve and communities grow. The reform proposal aims to get ahead of that and put a structure in place that can provide the investment and service quality required to futureproof three waters services.”

Council has until the end of September to consider the potential impact of the reform, identify areas of concern and advocate for the best outcomes for our community.

As part of that process, residents can let council know if there is anything they want commissioners to raise with the Government by completing an online form or attending a community drop-in session (details to be confirmed, see below).

Key facets of the Government’s reform proposal

  • There will be four new, regional water service entities across New Zealand. Tauranga is in ‘Entity B’, which includes the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Taranaki regions.
  • These entities will take over the management of water assets, debt and income streams from councils. Councils will jointly own the water entities on behalf of their communities.
  • Councils and iwi/Māori will contribute to the objectives and priorities of these entities, through a proposed 50:50 governance model that honours the Treaty of Waitangi.
  • The entities will be held to account by the drinking water regulator, Taumata Arowai, to ensure public health remains paramount. Other regulatory mechanisms are also being developed around economic, community and environmental outcomes.
  • The new entities will be required to consult with communities.
  • A funding package has been offered to ensure no council is financially “worse off” as a result of the reform. This would provide a total of $500 million in 2024, when the new water entities are anticipated to be established, to cover the costs councils face as a result of their participation in the reform and address any adverse impacts on financial sustainability.
  • An additional future funding package has been offered to each council to ensure the reform leaves all communities “better off”. Based on a population/deprivation/land area formula, Tauranga would receive $48.5 million, with the bulk of the funding becoming available in 2024.

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

The reform also aims to deliver 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, this involves a commitment to working in partnership with Te Rangapū Mana Whenua o Tauranga Moana (the representative group for iwi and hapū in Tauranga).

Tolley says that if the three waters service delivery stays as it is – managed by 67 separate councils – future service quality across the country will remain variable and the level of investment required will mean services will become unaffordable for many people.

“What’s proposed is a significant change and change always makes people feel uneasy. However, we have an opportunity to co-design a delivery model that will work for all New Zealanders and Tauranga City Council and the commissioners are keen to gauge the community’s views on what that model should look like and what safeguards are required to protect the community’s interests.”

Issues identified by the Commission for raising with central Government include:

  • 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.

The Commission is planning to hold information and feedback ‘pop-up’ sessions in Papamoa and Greerton during the week commencing September 13.

Exact dates, times and locations will be shared with the community when confirmed (depending on Covid alert levels).

For more information on the three waters reform visit our  website: www.tauranga.govt.nz/three-waters-reform

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9 Comments
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Far out

Posted on 20-08-2021 20:26 | By

Will Tauranga be worse off. Of course we will. This isn’t about Tauranga. This is about giving all kiwi’s access to safe water. Seems like a reasonable thing for kiwis to expect and other kiwis to want to support. Though appears that the same attitudes that have held Tauranga back for year are well on view here. Sure makes us look like very sad bunch. Perhaps Karenville would be a better description.

Tom Ranger

Posted on 20-08-2021 09:19 | By

@Caveman Impressive. and correct. Keep up the good work.

Referendum

Posted on 19-08-2021 15:38 | By

What can’t all councils do the right thing and hold a referendum on 3 Waters. Having two "Popup Sessions" really does not cut it. It is hardly getting the true feeling of all ratepayers and who knows what spin can be put on this "Conultation with Ratepayers" because we all know this is what will happen. We, ratepayers, DEMAND referendums. It is, after all, the democratic thing to do.

Let your voice be heard

Posted on 19-08-2021 15:29 | By

TCC will be using these meetings as consulting the ratepayer. Go and protest your hearts out. We are still a democracy but by only the skin of our teeth. There is much ratepayers have not been told. One of these is that your water rates will be going up to some $2000.00 to $3000.00 a year.

3 Waters Untold Facts

Posted on 19-08-2021 15:16 | By

Tauranga has the best water treatment plant in the Southern Hemisphere. Under 3 Waters it is tipped that your domestic yearly water rates bill will go up between $2000.00 to $3000.00. BTW when I studied the Treaty there was NOTHING in there regarding co-governance. To have 16% of the population has a 50% say is just a little undemocratic.

Words matter

Posted on 19-08-2021 14:40 | By PragmaticMikeSays

and nowhere in any of the interpretations of the Treaty did it mention "partnership" or "co-governance". The idea that Queen Victoria would enter into a partnership of co-governance with people she’d never met, and who had pleaded for the protection of being a British subject to bring law and order, is preposterous at best. This government is marching towards apartheid when the Treaty had the opposite intention.

Consultation?

Posted on 19-08-2021 14:33 | By PragmaticMikeSays

The link tells you what your concerns are, then asks if you want to raise anything else. You’re allowed precisely 500 characters only - this is not consultation, it’s lip-service at best.

Labour Orientated?

Posted on 19-08-2021 11:01 | By Centurion

Commissioners are ticking strongly to the party line, parroting partnership, equal representation etc, none of which are mentioned in the treaty. Speak up, Tauranga, but don’t expect that your input will have any impact on the pre-determined outcome.

Basically, the Labour G'ment

Posted on 19-08-2021 10:37 | By The Caveman

wants to "nationalise" (read steal) the water supply operations of local councils - that ratepayers have paid for over many many many years - and then set the whole country wide (three waters) system, especially the fresh water supply and the sewerage treatment, up for sale to private ownership, which will then be operated at a massive profit at ratepayer expense !!