SWDC encourages decision makers...
Released: Tuesday 28 February 2023
SWDC encourages decision makers to look at alternative three waters models
South Waikato District Council (SWDC) encourages the continued search for an alternative model to deliver three waters to communities. SWDC has been a member of Communities 4 Local Democracy (C4LD) almost since inception. Backed by 30 councils (including South Waikato) C4LD has raised concerns about the Government’s current Three Waters model.
“Our Council continues to support C4LD and the commitment to an alternative model of three waters reform,” said Mayor Gary Petley. “C4LD’s goals align with that of the South Waikato. Its policy and proposed system for water reform protects property rights and local voice, while providing a sensible approach to the serious issue of three waters infrastructure.”
When three waters was first floated, SWDC made it very clear that we supported three priority aspects of the reform, namely 1, the high-level outcomes regarding safe and reliable drinking water, improved environmental performance, resilience and sustainability; 2, the need to provide for local iwi to have improved input into decision making related to these local assets; and 3, the introduction of regulator Taumata Arowai to hold councils to account.
“But that’s where our support stops,” said Mayor Gary Petley. “We don’t support the proposed four-entity model as a solution. It is based on faulty modelling and an ideology of centralisation that has been rejected by kiwis nationwide.”
“The Government has failed to allow for a more bespoke approach to take into account individual councils’ circumstances,” continued Mayor Petley. “The speed of the reform has compromised rational and evidence-based consideration. The approach to change the ownership and management of the related assets is a mistake and the current proposed Four Entity model is not the best solution. The voices of smaller councils, like my own, will be lost.”
In November last year, a Curia poll showed 7 out of 10 Kiwis were against Three Waters. In 2022 in the South Waikato, engagement results show that 94% are against the current model for the following reasons: non-democratic process, anticipated increasing costs, risk of privatisation, no genuine consultation, rushed through, theft of assets, centralising doesn’t necessarily mean lower cost, one size doesn’t fit all and SWDC has well managed infrastructure and appropriately funded.
“We believe in the rights of local communities to direct how their local infrastructure grows to meet their needs and the right to have local input into local decisions on services,” continued Mayor Petley. “We don’t want to hand over the control of how we service our communities to remote and unaccountable water companies.”
“C4LD has developed solutions that meet the crucial elements of reform - meeting new drinking water standards, while maintaining local ownership, accountability and allowing for flexibility of delivery that allows for meaningful roles for mana whenua,” says Mayor Petley. “It’s time decision-makers take a fresh look at the alternative models proposed.”
SWDC is not politically aligned. Alongside C4LD, we are happy to work with those who share our core beliefs in local ownership and local voice. We are committed to a reform model that is fit for Aotearoa New Zealand.