NPDC to discuss central government three-water reforms

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NPDC to discuss central government three-water reforms at public meeting

The New Plymouth mayor and district councilors are expected to consider comments on Three Waters’ proposed reforms at a public meeting next week.

Under the central government’s proposal, responsibility for providing New Zealand’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services is shifted from 67 boards to four water utility entities (WSE).

The NPDC would join a WSE serving 800,000 people covering Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, as well as Whanganui, Ruapehu and Rangitikei. While the boards will be enshrined in law as owners of the assets under the proposal, they will not be financial shareholders. Instead, all financial aspects will be managed by a governance board.

The NPDC will get at least $ 31.5 million from a $ 2.8 billion fund the government has established to help implement the changes and offset the costs incurred.

A report to a special council meeting on Wednesday, September 21 will outline what is proposed as part of the reforms and what it means for the district. A draft government feedback document will also be considered.

“It is important to understand that the Three Waters reforms are a central government proposal and that the Council is not the decision maker. We were asked our opinion on how to improve this proposal, not whether we will be part of the reforms or not. The Board approached the 8 week period provided to us, with an open mind as we work through a great deal of information, ”said Craig Stevenson, CEO of NPDC.

Like other councils across New Zealand, the NPDC has until the end of September to review the impact of the reforms, seek clarification from the Department of Home Affairs (DIA) and provide feedback to the central government.

The mayor and councilors will review a full report that suggests the following comments:

· That the governance structure and its ownership model be changed so that the entities become co-operatives owned by residents and shareholders would also elect community representatives.

· That further reflection be carried out on how to ensure that the iwi and hapū are involved in the governance of networks within their rohe.

· That the local authorities identify the strategic priorities in their existing ten-year plan and that the entities are required to undertake these projects during the first seven years.

· That additional protections against privatization be put in place.

· That the government exclude storm water networks from the proposal and that these assets remain under the control of local authorities.

That all water personnel continue to be employed in the same roles, location and with the same salary while calling on the government to invest in WITT to become a training center for the workforce of Three Waters.

· That the government undertake a more detailed assessment of blocked overheads to ensure that they are adequately funded under the “no worse off” offer.

The comments also highlight the importance for the government to engage with communities as the owner of water resources.

More information can be found on our website https://www.newplymouthnz.com/Council/About-the-Council/Three-Waters-Reforms

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