Water  |  27 Sep 2021

Christchurch City Council has unanimously rejected the Government’s proposed approach to three waters reform, saying the case doesn’t stack up for Christchurch.

“The case has been made for increased investment across the country but the proposed changes to the delivery model are flawed and don’t stack up for us,’’ says Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

“The Government has taken a one-size fits all approach to the reform process and is promoting a model that would deprive our communities of having any say in the delivery of three water services.

“We don’t believe this is the right approach. We want to work with the Government to explore other options that would deliver better outcomes for individual Councils whilst still addressing the need to ensure that everyone in New Zealand has access to safe drinking water,’’ Mayor Dalziel says.

“It is very important to us and to the communities that we represent that Christchurch can get, and maintain, an exemption from the requirement for public drinking water supplies to be chlorinated.

“Any model that prevents this from happening is completely unacceptable to us. We have invested heavily in the infrastructure and we will not settle for a delivery model that shuts us out of the decision-making,’’ Mayor Dalziel says.

In providing feedback to the Government, the Council will write to Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta to ask for a pause in the Government’s reform agenda.

The Canterbury Mayoral Forum, of which Mayor Dalziel is a member, has also asked for a pause in the reform process.

“These decisions are once-in-a-generation decisions for Councils and we feel very strongly that they should not be rushed,’’ Mayor Dalziel says.

“We are also making it clear that we don’t have any confidence that the Government has a sound understanding of stormwater service provision and the place of urban waterways. There is almost no information or analysis regarding stormwater, waterways and floodplain management in the proposals.

“Water Industry Commission for Scotland has no experience with stormwater service provision, nor do the other overseas water entities used as comparators with New Zealand water services provision.

“With no expertise or understanding of stormwater service provision, it appears to be an unacceptable risk to continue to include stormwater in the reform programme.’’ 

Mayor Dalziel says it is time for a reset.

“We want the Government to thoroughly investigate other delivery and funding options.  Councils also need to be given time to understand how the three waters reform aligns with the Future for Local Government Review and the reforms that are also happening in resource management and climate adaptation.

“We are not questioning that change needs to occur. However, we need to make sure that we are making the right changes for the right reasons and that we are protecting the interests of our residents,’’ Mayor Dalziel says.

“We are happy to continue working with the Government to find a better way forward.’’

Read the Council's feedback on the proposed Three Waters Reforms.