Steering Committee Update, 18 December 2020

Return to: Three Waters Reform Programme

Tēnā koutou katoa,

This email from the joint Central/Local Government Three Waters Steering Committee has been sent to Mayors, Chairs, and Chief Executives only (more information on the Steering Committee is provided at the bottom of this email*).

Please forward this update to your colleagues and elected members as appropriate.

Have a safe and happy holiday

This will be the last Steering Committee update of 2020. As we reflected last week, this has been a long hard year for us all. We would like to wish you all a restful summer break with your friends and whānau.

In line with a jam-packed year, this week’s update has some substantial information for you to consider over your summer holiday.

Release of key three waters documents

As signalled in our previous updates, the Department of Internal Affairs has been supporting the Minster of Local Government’s paper to Cabinet on the Reform Programme.

Today, the Department of Internal Affairs has proactively released this Cabinet paper on the Department’s Three Waters Reform webpage . Cabinet considered this paper on 14 December 2020.

This Cabinet paper (among other things):

  • (re) confirms the Government’s intention to progress the reforms during this term;
  • seeks agreement to continue with the voluntary approach to the reforms;
  • Sets out the reform timeline for the reform programme; and
  • seeks agreement to early legislation to enable councils to take a decision on whether to continue to participate with the reforms or opt-out – this direction is important in light of questions about how the reforms future decision will affect LTPs and consultation requirements.

SOLGM are preparing a practice note with refreshed guidance on the reforms and your LTPs in light of this Cabinet paper. This practice note is expected to be issued shortly.

Additionally, earlier this year the Department commissioned a report from the Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS) using publicly available council information (LTPs, Annual Plans and Annual Reports).

The Steering Committee provided feedback on an early draft of this report. This was used this to inform the questions asked through the RFI.

A second stage analysis will be produced in the first half of 2021 using detailed information provided through the RFI.

The Department has released this stage one report alongside the proactive release of the Cabinet paper so that you may review both of these documents ahead of the early 2021 engagements. 

Both of these documents are available on the Department’s Three Waters Reform webpage under the December 2020 update section.

Save the Date for 2021 engagement workshop

As you know, the Department of Internal Affairs, in partnership with the Steering Committee, will be undertaking another series of engagement on the reform programme in March 2021.

Please find below a letter from Brian Hannah and Allan Prangnell with initial information on the upcoming engagements and oversight of the planned dates.

Save the Date – Three Waters Reform March 2021 engagement (DOCX, 50KB)

Save the Date – Three Waters Reform March 2021 engagement (PDF, 664KB)

We have worked with LGNZ Zone chairs to agree these dates to align with planned Zone meetings where possible to cut down on travel, expenses and inconvenience for elected members and councils staff attending.

We ask that you provide this Save the Date letter to your elected members and senior staff as appropriate.

The Department will invite iwi/Māori separately as part of the Crown/Māori relationship. However, you may wish to also inform your mana whenua partners.

More information on the workshops and supporting engagements will be communicated in the New Year.  

Water Services Bill open for submissions

Last week we notified you that the Water Services Bill had received its first reading.

The Health Select Committee have now made a call for submissions on the Bill. Submissions are open until 2 March 2021.

We would encourage you to read the Bill and make submissions on this as you see appropriate. The changes proposed in this Bill will be a substantial part of the future system of three waters service provision.

You can find the Bill on the Parliament website here.

Looking forward

In early January the Request for Information team will be working to support councils to finalise the RFI request that is due on 1 February 2021.

Over the next two months the Steering Committee and Officials will focus on progressing our work and refining options to be tested with you in early 2021.

We will work to ensure you are provided information on key design options and proposals ahead of the engagement series to enable you to best engage in this series.

Useful resources

  • Information relating to the Steering Committee’s work and the Three Waters Reform Programme can be found here
  • Information relating to the RfI process can be found here
  • Information covering the earlier work of the Three Waters Review can be found here
  • Information relating to the establishment of Taumata Arowai can be found here

*The Joint Three Waters Steering Committee

  • The Committee was formed following agreement, at the Prime Minister’s Central/Local Government Forum in mid-May, between senior Government Ministers and LGNZ’s National Council to work in partnership towards three waters service delivery reform.
  • It comprises Mayors, Chief Executives, Regional Council and Te Maruata representation as well as the Society of Local Government Managers, Local Government New Zealand, the Department of Internal Affairs, and the Treasury.
  • The Committee provides oversight and guidance and works to ensure that a broad range of interests and perspectives are considered through the reform process.
  • These updates are posted to the Three Waters Reform webpage where you will also find key documents relating to the Steering Committee’s work and to the overall three waters reform programme.

Meri Kirihimete me ngā mihi o te Tau Hou

Three Waters Steering Committee