What's being proposed?
The Government has announced it will transfer responsibility for these services from local councils into the hands of four new, large water services agencies or ‘entities’.
Each entity will be owned by the councils in its area, and Iwi/Māori would also participate in the governance structure.
Selwyn will become part of Entity D which covers the majority of the South Island.
Each entity will be responsible for operating and maintaining the three waters networks, and would charge users for the services – in the same way that councils currently charge through a combination of rates and water charges.
The Government says the reform will save ratepayers money in the long term and will result in better quality, safer water services. The new entities will also be responsible for meeting the water quality and safety standards set by the new water regulator, Taumata Arowai.
Why – and why now?
The Government believes the current arrangements aren’t sustainable for many councils and their communities around the country. Some of the reasons they have given include:
- Many councils have not invested adequately in infrastructure in the past – this means they are left
with old, unreliable infrastructure.
- These councils will face large costs to upgrade their infrastructure – which would be difficult for
many smaller councils.
- Councils will also have to meet the rising future costs associated with water quality and safety,
environmental standards, climate change and community expectations.
The reform proposals suggest that because of their size, the new entities would be better able to borrow the funds needed to invest in the water infrastructure that’s needed. The Government also suggests the entities would be better able to meet Iwi/Māori aspirations, build resilience to natural hazards and climate change, and support growth.