The Wellington Water Committee welcomes today’s announcements on sector reform proposals and additional water infrastructure funding as an opportunity to address long-standing challenges within the water sector.
Committee Chair David Bassett said the proposals to consolidate New Zealand’s water utilities into larger regional asset owner/manager entities had the potential to deliver long-term benefits.
“In the Wellington region we have seen the advantages of a consolidated model to manage water infrastructure across multiple councils. The Government’s proposals take this a step further, and present an opportunity to create ownership and management models that enable improved service, efficiency and flexibility with regards to funding the management, development and renewal of water infrastructure networks.”
Central government funding will accelerate the delivery of valuable major water projects supporting critical public and environmental health outcomes, he said.
“We know that the challenges and costs associated with aging water infrastructure have been an issue faced by mana whenua, councils, utility companies and residents around New Zealand. Here in the Wellington region, additional funding would enable us to get under way with key new infrastructure projects and build them concurrently. This means we would all secure the benefits of an improved water network sooner.”
Mr Bassett said the proposals outlined today represented significant change for the sector, but that, importantly, three waters assets would remain in public ownership.
“We’ve been involved with the Government throughout its Three Waters Review process, and facilitated discussions with councils in the wider region about different reform options.
“All of us in the water sector – from councils through to users – have to be ready to make adjustments in order to successfully tackle the challenges we collectively face. Continuing to meet our community’s water needs now and in the future calls for a systemic approach to long-term objectives around water security, water quality, sustainability and climate change.
“The decisions and investments we make now are not just about next year, or the next ten years, but will also determine the quality of water services our great-grandchildren will experience. ”
Mr Bassett says the Wellington region’s water asset owners and managers look forward to working with the Government, its new regulator, Taumata Arowai, and mana whenua to support the successful development and implementation of water sector structural reform.