NZ's Three Waters Reform: What it means for Auckland

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Consultation on NZ’s Three Waters Reform: What it means for Auckland closed on Sunday 19 December, 2021. Thank you for having your say. The team are currently analysing all of the feedback received and will report back on key outcomes.

Central government is proposing a change to the way the ‘three waters’ (drinking water, wastewater and stormwater) are managed across Aotearoa New Zealand.

In Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland these are currently controlled by Auckland Council and Watercare (a council- controlled organisation).

Watercare provides water and wastewater services, while Auckland Council manages stormwater.

What the Government is proposing

The government is proposing to create four new, large-scale water service delivery entities to manage all of New Zealand’s water, wastewater and stormwater networks.

Under the proposal, Watercare would no longer exist and Auckland’s three water services would form part of a new Entity A.

Entity A would also include the council water services of the Far North, Kaipara and Whangārei.

What the reform means for Auckland

The relationship between Auckland Council and the new entity will be more distant than it currently is between council and Watercare.

Currently Watercare is accountable to Aucklanders, through the elected members on Auckland Council's Governing Body.

Auckland Council appoints Watercare’s board of directors, and the law requires Watercare to comply with Auckland Council’s long-term plans and strategic direction.

In addition, the councillors approve Watercare’s Statement of Intent. A Statement of Intent is an organisation’s work programme and priorities for the next three years.

Why the government is proposing these reforms

The water sector needs a lot of investment to ensure communities have safe, reliable and affordable water services, and to prevent raw sewage getting into our beaches and rivers.

The government estimates that investment of between $120-$185 billion is needed over next 30 years across New Zealand.

These four new large-scale water entities would be able to borrow enough to fund the future investment needed and would likely deliver more efficiency.

Key features of the government's proposal

The key features of the government reform proposal are:

  • the assets remain in public ownership
  • an independent board of directors will govern each entity
  • though it would have no direct control over the new entity, a council’s role would be to try to influence its direction on behalf of the council’s communities
  • each entity would have to respond to mana whenua direction and involve communities when preparing key documents
  • national water standards and economic regulation would also apply.

Where Auckland Council stands

We are supportive of the outcomes the Three Waters Reform is trying to achieve – providing greater investment in water infrastructure to ensure reliable and safe drinking water, and to prevent raw sewage getting into our beaches and rivers.

However, we’re concerned about who these new water entities are answerable to, and how accountable they are to the public.

Auckland Council supports a water service entity model, like the council-controlled Watercare model, where the new water entity is held accountable and responsive to Aucklanders through their elected representatives.

This would mean that elected representatives would appoint the entity’s Board of Directors and the entity would need to comply with the broad objectives set by elected representatives.

More information

You can find out more about the proposed reforms by reading the Consultation Document.

If you want to hear more information from our subject matter experts, you can watch a recording of one of our webinars.

Consultation on NZ’s Three Waters Reform: What it means for Auckland closed on Sunday 19 December, 2021. Thank you for having your say. The team are currently analysing all of the feedback received and will report back on key outcomes.

Central government is proposing a change to the way the ‘three waters’ (drinking water, wastewater and stormwater) are managed across Aotearoa New Zealand.

In Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland these are currently controlled by Auckland Council and Watercare (a council- controlled organisation).

Watercare provides water and wastewater services, while Auckland Council manages stormwater.

What the Government is proposing

The government is proposing to create four new, large-scale water service delivery entities to manage all of New Zealand’s water, wastewater and stormwater networks.

Under the proposal, Watercare would no longer exist and Auckland’s three water services would form part of a new Entity A.

Entity A would also include the council water services of the Far North, Kaipara and Whangārei.

What the reform means for Auckland

The relationship between Auckland Council and the new entity will be more distant than it currently is between council and Watercare.

Currently Watercare is accountable to Aucklanders, through the elected members on Auckland Council's Governing Body.

Auckland Council appoints Watercare’s board of directors, and the law requires Watercare to comply with Auckland Council’s long-term plans and strategic direction.

In addition, the councillors approve Watercare’s Statement of Intent. A Statement of Intent is an organisation’s work programme and priorities for the next three years.

Why the government is proposing these reforms

The water sector needs a lot of investment to ensure communities have safe, reliable and affordable water services, and to prevent raw sewage getting into our beaches and rivers.

The government estimates that investment of between $120-$185 billion is needed over next 30 years across New Zealand.

These four new large-scale water entities would be able to borrow enough to fund the future investment needed and would likely deliver more efficiency.

Key features of the government's proposal

The key features of the government reform proposal are:

  • the assets remain in public ownership
  • an independent board of directors will govern each entity
  • though it would have no direct control over the new entity, a council’s role would be to try to influence its direction on behalf of the council’s communities
  • each entity would have to respond to mana whenua direction and involve communities when preparing key documents
  • national water standards and economic regulation would also apply.

Where Auckland Council stands

We are supportive of the outcomes the Three Waters Reform is trying to achieve – providing greater investment in water infrastructure to ensure reliable and safe drinking water, and to prevent raw sewage getting into our beaches and rivers.

However, we’re concerned about who these new water entities are answerable to, and how accountable they are to the public.

Auckland Council supports a water service entity model, like the council-controlled Watercare model, where the new water entity is held accountable and responsive to Aucklanders through their elected representatives.

This would mean that elected representatives would appoint the entity’s Board of Directors and the entity would need to comply with the broad objectives set by elected representatives.

More information

You can find out more about the proposed reforms by reading the Consultation Document.

If you want to hear more information from our subject matter experts, you can watch a recording of one of our webinars.

Page last updated: 21 January 2022, 10:48