Government urged not to delay vital water services reforms

31 August 2022

Water New Zealand says it is important that the legislation paving the way for new water services entities is not delayed.

Chief Executive Gillian Bythe and President Helen Atkins told the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee that the Association supports the intent of the Water Services Entities Bill to provide equitable access to safe, reliable, and affordable water services.

After speaking in support of Water New Zealand’s submission on the legislation, Gillian Blythe said that it important not to lose sight of the need to improve water service delivery in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“We need to remember that it’s been six years since the Havelock North water contamination event and that the subsequent inquiry found ‘’widespread systemic failure” among water suppliers to meet safety standards.”

She says the water reforms, including the Water Services Entities Bill, go a long way to addressing the systemic safety concerns.

“This is a transformative piece of legislation and improvements to better support the Bill’s intent can be made without delaying the passing of the legislation.”

Helen Atkins says the terms of reference and scope of the new economic regulator will be important to ensure that the needs of the wider community and environment remains at the forefront of the new delivery system.

“It is also important that the legislation ensures the appropriate level of expertise on the new entities boards, including knowledge and experience of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and mana whenua perspectives, but also performance monitoring, governance and appropriate water experience.

“The Three Waters sector has suffered from long term under-investment in both infrastructure and workforce capability and there is a risk of a continuing investment hiatus during the transition period.

“We need to ensure that the sector has the confidence and ability to upgrade and innovate during this time.”

Water New Zealand acknowledges that our members hold a variety of views in relation to water reform, including this Bill. Some of our membership hold strong and varied views in regard to governance and representation. For this reason, we do not comment on the representative framework but on technical excellence in the delivery of safe and environmentally appropriate water infrastructure and services.

Water Reform