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Council ratifies submission to Government on three waters reform

three waters reform

After considering community feedback and closely analysing the Government’s initial proposal for three waters reform, Hastings District Council has ratified its position at its full council meeting today.

Councils had until October 1 to give feedback on the proposal to create four entities across the country to manage drinking water, waste water and storm water – the aim being to enable water quality standards to be met consistently across the three water systems.

In a letter to the Minister, council outlines its view that while the status quo for three waters management and delivery was not viable and needed to change, its preference was for there to be a Hawke’s Bay three waters service delivery and asset owning entity.

This was rather than the large entity proposed by Government that would incorporate 21 territorial authorities across Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, lower Manawatu-Whanganui, Wellington, Tasman, Nelson, and Marlborough regions.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said that following the contamination of the Havelock North water supply in 2016, council had made drinking water its number one priority and had worked hard and invested heavily in making improvements.

“We learnt first-hand from Havelock North what was needed and we used that experience to inform our drinking water strategy.

“We are now close to completing an extensive programme of infrastructure improvements, an investment of $80m, which has also drawn on high levels of expertise.

“This knowledge has been used to assist a comprehensive review of all three waters that we have undertaken with the other Hawke’s Bay territorial authorities.

“This review is not complete, however, we believe the Hawke’s Bay model we are working on has the potential to deliver our three waters services effectively and cost efficiently. We would like to have the chance to finalise it to help inform our decision making around the proposed three waters reform.”

In September, council asked the community to give feedback on the proposal through an online survey and a Facebook Live question and answer session.

Of those who responded 75 per cent were very uncomfortable with the current government proposal, and rated affordability, safety and security of supply, local service delivery and local ownership as their top priorities.

Ninety per cent of respondents noted that it was very important for the government’s final proposal to be fully consulted on with the community.

Mrs Hazlehurst said this feedback provided the basis to council’s submission to government.

“There is a lot of strong feeling in our community, and as a council we feel it is important that Government considers our preferred option of a Hawke’s Bay regional entity, and that it conducts proper, meaningful engagement with councils and communities before making any changes to three waters in the future.”

The full council report and its submission to Government, as well as the full results of the community survey can be found on the council website https://hastings.infocouncil.biz

30 September 2021

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