Feedback defines critical three waters reform challenges


LGNZ President Stuart Crosby is congratulating councils for the hard work put in over the past eight weeks providing feedback on the Government’s Three Waters Reform Proposal, saying this mahi has clearly identified five key areas that need work if the model is to deliver its goals.

“Early on we negotiated with the Government through a Heads of Agreement to give councils an opportunity to provide input at this critical point in the water reforms. This has been vindicated by the high quality of the feedback that we’ve received from across the country,” said Mr Crosby.

Early analysis of the feedback shows five clear areas of concern:

  • Governance, accountability: The sector is concerned the proposed arms-length governance arrangements are not sufficient to ensure the Water Service Entities are accountable to communities.
  • Local voice and prioritisation: The small size of the Regional Representative Group (governance) is a challenge for councils, especially among smaller councils who fear their voice will be crowded out when setting investment priorities and plans.
  • Integration with the planning system: The parallel Resource Management reforms are creating uncertainty, and at a minimum councils will want to see the Water Service Entities “give effect” to their plans (as they exist) rather than “give consideration” to their plans.
  • Rural Water Schemes: The complexity of rural water scheme ownership and operations is creating uncertainty in many rural communities and the role of Taumata Arowai and the Water Service Entities needs to be clarified.
  • Iwi/Māori co-governance: Councils want the flexibility in the Regional Representative Group settings to ensure they can match existing relationships with mana whenua.

Mr Crosby says sector feedback has been critical in defining the issues that must be resolved – as well as potential solutions.