Three Waters debate brews in WBOP

Under the proposed reforms, councils would hand over their drinking water, stormwater and a sewerage systems to be run by large publicly-owned entities — along with any associated debt.

A former Western Bay of Plenty District councillor is urging people to speak up about Three Waters Reform.

Councils around the country have until October 1 to submit their feedback on the government’s proposal.

Under the proposed reforms, councils would hand over their drinking water, stormwater and a sewerage systems to be run by large publicly-owned entities — along with any associated debt.

The government says the new water authorities will have the borrowing power and efficiencies of scale that councils lack, to replace ageing pipes and get water services up to standard in an affordable way.

Last week, Local Government NZ president, and former Tauranga Council mayor, Stuart Crosby updated councils on the reaction to the proposed.

Stuart Crosby.

He says LGNZ's national council is hearing from councils around the country that the number and pace of reforms are placing them under serious pressure.

"Councils are also being put in the unwelcome position of explaining central government policy to their communities, sometimes in the absence of public-facing detail from the Government, especially in three waters."

There is a sense that local democracy is being undermined and LGNZ has pushed back on this. Read more here.

It’s not just Local Government having an issue with this, residents in the Western Bay of Plenty have also been voicing their concerns.

Christina Humphreys, who was a councillor for the Western Bay of Plenty before stepping down and triggering by-election last year, says she will be submitting her concerns to WBOP Council on Thursday.

She says about six people from the Katikati ward are expected to be present at the meeting on Thursday, but due to Level 2 restrictions, council has told her that speakers will be limited.

Christina Humphreys.

“We were hoping to get some certainty from the mayor and councillors that they are on the same side as ratepayers, because we wish to keep our water assets that ratepayers have paid for and built up over many years,” says Christina.

“Western Bay District over the years have built up and paid the money to have a very satisfactory asset that serves us well.

“Why should we allow the control of this asset, to be taken away from us and have to pay higher fees to other entities to manage our assets? Something is wrong with this picture?”

Christina is urging people to submit their thoughts on the proposal before it is too late.

“It’s time now for you all to speak up, we are fast having all our assets taken. Assets you have paid for and the upkeep for years and years. We are losing ownership of and our democracy.”

Earlier this month, WBOPDC Mayor Garry Webber called for patience on the matter.

The call came as various ratepayer groups in the Western Bay and Tauranga communities called for more transparency, with some even suggesting a referendum is necessary to make the decision.

He took to the Council’s Facebook page to address concerns. He highlights the fact that, at present, participation remains voluntary and that WBOPDC are not yet in a position where a decision has to be made.

Garry Webber.

“Right now we are not being asked to decide to opt in or out of the reform,” says Webber.

“Like all councils, we've been given an eight-week window to study the Government's proposal, understand the likely effect it would have on us and provide feedback to the Government by October 1.”

He says WBOPDC’s concerns and questions over the reforms vary, including undertaking an analysis of Council information to assess the impacts of Three Waters and comparing the reform scenario to that in which Council continues to deliver water services.

“This analysis covers several areas including service levels, finance and funding, workforce and capability, and social, community and economic well-being,” he says.

Webber says he understands why the community has a vested interest in how the area’s Three Waters services are delivered.

However, with the Government still waiting for feedback, not an opt-in, from councils, Garry says it is not yet the appropriate time for extensive community consultation.


More on SunLive...
You must be logged in to make a comment. Login Now

Lgr. you have to be joking

Posted on 25-09-2021 09:58 | By R. Bell

both of your references are extreme far right commenters who’s rational is destroy all opposition to their ideology. There are plenty of like minded people ,obviously including you. Like them you are wrong. Water reform will take place because it has to, it will be debated and issues resolved, just as Federated Farmers recently did with Internal Affairs. Regarding Article two, yet again you are wrong. One word does not divide the nation, you do. Article 71 of the Constitution Act backed up the treaty in allowing self government to Maori in protected areas. Yet again Maori were shafted by greed and selfishness. Read it and educate yourself. If that is a personal attack, so be it.


Posted on 23-09-2021 19:45 | By

You just can’t help yourself can you.... Once again you attack the messenger rather than the message. Either listen to Leighton Smiths’ podcast number 127 or read the articles on the website and understand why more and more people are becoming vocal in their opposition to so many activities being forced through by this totally inept government. As for article 2, the meaning of a single word is always going to divide the nation and in my opinion is being used irresponsibly and will result in resentment on both sides as more and more tokenism is forced into areas that require skilled management qualities and experience.

Yes informed

Posted on 23-09-2021 09:26 | By Kancho

Yes informed you will find an interesting piece to Google and read " Big winners and losers of Three Waters compo package " that a lot of inaccurate information and discussion with councils. A way to go for clarity I would say.

Proof of the pudding

Posted on 23-09-2021 09:01 | By R. Bell

yet again in the latest comments from kancho and Lgr. The notion that I attack the person rather than policy is ridiculous. I support rational, considered governance by both elected and appointed officials. That governance does not always meet my personal preference but I support those elected, you people on the other hand are damned by your record. Continuous assumption that you speak for "ratepayers" is nonsense, as is your uninformed opinions about the "disaster" of Scotlands water policies which is currently the most efficient provider of water in the U.K. The mistaken notion that ruling governments "consult the electorate" on every policy change is total nonsense as is the arrogant assumption that self appointed ratepayer groups speak for all ratepayers. Just for you Lgr, I strongly support Maori representation in line with article 2 of the treaty, a token of empathy, you don’t possess.

The right idea, poorly managed

Posted on 22-09-2021 20:34 | By

From what I can see the idea of central water entities to address the current issues with water and the fact that no council meets the new standards makes sense. Where things are going wildly off track is the fact that the whole thing is being run by consultants that appear to have a utopian view on the future. The costs don’t add up, there is no operating model, roadmap or plan. What needs to happen is another year of planning. And then those plans should be voted on.

The usual name calling

Posted on 22-09-2021 11:26 | By Kancho

R Bell as expected doesn’t like opinions and debate of issues but when not agreeing merely attacks the the people not the ball who point out poor policies. That’s what politics is about affairs of the people. The government isn’t all bad but poor or silly policy is always going to be criticized. A lot of what Labour is doing wasn’t on their song sheet in election time as they know they wouldn’t have survived the vote if they did. I for one have always been a life long Labour supporter who will not be voting for them again. So being an labelled by R Bell besides being very amusing could equally be R Bell a Labour spin purveyor. As always everyone’s opinion is absolutely OK that’s what this forum is for but name calling is I think a desperate tactic.


Posted on 22-09-2021 11:07 | By

Once again you indulge in attacks on people rather than issues. I can’t speak for others because I’m not aligned with anyone and express my own opinions. Presumably you will be in a position to influence greatly the token race-based seat filler on council into the future. Do you honestly believe that one representative voice from a group of councils (whether it’s your puppet or another representative of all ratepayers) is going to have sufficient influence over government appointed lapdogs following government directives...? I know that currently I can approach a local government employee and they’re going to know what, where and why I’m talking to them and how to address local concerns and that won’t be the case with government interference and governance by committee.


Posted on 22-09-2021 10:48 | By

The question is also why has the government only provided this one option when there are many others that they could put forward. Their proposal to spend over $200 Billion dollars and not to do this only again highlights this Labour government incompetence. Not all councils require heavy funding. Surely what this government should be doing first is asking what each council think they need to bring their services up to standard. I still maintain that any councillor that thinks that the sale of this significant asset should not go to the ratepayers should be remembered at election time. BTW the level of consultation we are seeing is, sadly, very poor.


Posted on 22-09-2021 09:24 | By R. Bell

opposition to all government proposals are a precursor to extremism, the kind exhibited by Ms Humphreys and the usual supporters kancho, Lgr dumbkof etc. None represent the ratepayers of Tauranga City or WBOPDC. The fact is that the current proposal may well represent a far greater benefit to all ratepayers than the current situation does for the long term supply, delivery and waste of our water. Garry Weber is an astute manager who along with his councilors, will no doubt make the best decision in the best interest of ALL ratepayers AND other interested parties that make up our community. Manic opposition prior to consultation is your classical extreme minority tactic that inevitably fails. Let’s see what the detail is before selfish judgment.


Posted on 21-09-2021 12:20 | By

Apart from the proposed make up of the governance committee, which is totally unacceptable, I suspect that certain people are laying the groundwork for their next high-income employment opportunities after they’ve exited parliament. So probably more ineptitude. Local governance and control allows for a little more local input into local issues rather than appeals to a committee that has no concerns about losing their jobs because they’re not directly involved with the community.


Posted on 21-09-2021 11:52 | By Kancho

We need Three Waters to be delayed as this was never in the pre election policies nor were quite a lot of other things this government is doing which were obviously under wraps. Even now everything is controlled by the prime minister’s office and decent is smothered . The ultimate referendum on these policies is a general election. Voter’s should wake up and look at what policies are promulgated (although a lot is clearly hidden) and not vote for personalities because the spin well , even a degree in media studies

Funding merry go round

Posted on 21-09-2021 11:37 | By Kancho

Seems to me part of the government spin is about funding of infrastructure being difficult for local bodies . This is true as ratepayers struggle. However councils are constrained by government legislation to get funding. Why can’t government support local control by being a lender or underwriter to council after all it’s our tax money. Government loves growth as it increases tax intake so why not support growth where infrastructure struggles as they clip the ticket all the time. Seems government is more about squashing local politics and control of our assets. Maybe this seizure of assets is a means to get more income , not a tax but a levy on water , yeah right. Also should never be about race , this is not the team of five million. And stop the childish spin adverts everywhere especially grating on TV.


Posted on 21-09-2021 11:18 | By dumbkof2

dosnt matter what the people want mahuta and her govt will make it mandatory

The usual

Posted on 21-09-2021 10:16 | By R. Bell

scaremongering from a failed councilor. The facts defy her "logic" but continue to feed the "what if " brigade, who will stop at nothing to undermine the efficient handling of our councils. All current assets remain, only future management and expansion costs are worth debating. No place for small thinking and political one upmanship.

Ratepayers Water!

Posted on 21-09-2021 10:14 | By Equality

The water belongs to the ratepayers. We have paid for every little part of it and the infrastructure to deliver it. Western BOP ratepayers are not happy that the Mayor is asking for ’patience’. How can he in all good faith continue asking for patience when feedback from councils closes on Oct. 1st. Webber says - quote - " it is not yet the appropriate time for extensive community consultation". It appears to be obvious that he has no intention of listening to ratepayers - the decision probably already made among his cronies. Mahuta’s mob - the ’Down with Democracy’ crowd will win again!

Running scared

Posted on 21-09-2021 10:11 | By

I think Councils are crapping themselves at the thought of losing hundreds of dollars for the ratepayer. The proposed structure will save ratepayers hundreds through cheaper (water) rates. Council are concerned that will have to justify leaving the rates at the same level without any additional service.