Three Waters Steering Committee Update - 12 February 2021

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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.

Formal invitation to March engagements

Please find attached the formal invitation to the March workshops.

We ask that you please distribute this invitation to all elected members and your council staff as appropriate.

The Steering Committee is committed to ensuring these workshops provide a genuine opportunity to engage with the emerging thinking on the reforms ahead of advice to Ministers. We strongly encourage you to attend and participate in the workshops. 

The attached invitation provides more detail on what the workshop will cover and where to find useful preparatory information and materials.

We ask that you RSVP for planning purposes and COVID contingency management

The workshops will build on previous engagements and information releases and will assume a base-level of understanding of the reform programme objectives and direction. However, we are also offering a refresher webinar on the reform programme to date. You may sign up for this webinar through the RSVP tool.

We will provide additional information on the workshops as it becomes available.

Letter from the Steering Committee Independent Chair

Also attached you will find a letter from Brian Hanna reflecting on the past 8 months as the Independent Chair of the Steering Committee, looking to the year ahead for Reform Programme, and the Committee’s role in this.

RfI submissions and next steps

The EY, BECA, Mafic and WICS teams have reviewed the RfIs that councils submitted last week for completeness.

There are a small number of outstanding areas in some submissions that remain incomplete or could be refined further to enable more robust analysis. We have sent comments back to council RFI leads requesting these items be completed or refined. We anticipate having these revisions completed over the coming week.

Once all refined RFIs have been received and reviewed we will be able to progress our analysis at pace, however, we do note this will take some time to complete.

Council staff who contributed to the RFI will receive early stage feedback on their submission by WICS and DIA ahead of the release of aggregated analysis undertaken by DIA.

Below you will find a timeline of the forward programme of analysis on the RFI submissions.

You will note this timeline also includes a recommendation for councils to consider proactively releasing your own RFI submissions (subject to appropriate redactions) prior to the release of the consolidated analysis. The Steering Committee has approached the reform programme with a principle of transparency and would like to encourage councils to do the same.

How the RFI Information will input into the reform process

Resource Management Reforms

Yesterday, 10 February, the Minister for the Environment announced the approach and timeline for the Resource Management Act 1991 reforms. 

You can read the full press release on the beehive website at the following link and we understand Minister Parker has also written directly to councils on this.

You will note, in Minister Parker’s letter to councils he reinforced that there are no plans for institutional changes to local government in the RM reforms.

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) is working with the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) to ensure the Three Waters Reforms are cognisant of the direction of the RM Reforms and are fit-for-purpose for this future regulatory environment.

DIA officials will also be working with MfE to support local government participation in the development of the RM Reforms.

You can also find supporting information on the Ministry for the Environment’s website here:

Looking forward

A key focus of the Steering Committee over the coming months will be to support engagement to test the reform proposals ahead of advice to decision makers.

We anticipate decisions on the reform proposals to be taken by Cabinet in mid-2021 and communicated to the sector promptly after.

Over the following months Councils will be supported in engaging with communities on the reforms with a package of information, including on decisions on whether to remain in the reform programme or to opt out.

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

Ngā mihi,

Three Waters Steering Committee