Three Waters Reform Programme


The delivery of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater – the three waters services – is changing.

All New Zealanders need safe, reliable drinking water, wastewater and stormwater – the three waters services. We depend on these for the health and wellbeing of our communities and our environment.

Why do we need reform?

The evidence shows as a nation we haven’t adequately maintained and improved our water service infrastructure. Without change, the safety, reliability and affordability of these services will lead to more New Zealanders getting sick from contaminated drinking water, more sewage spills and increases in cost.

Three waters reform case for change and summary of proposals - 15 June 2022 (PDF, 1.3MB)

How will our water services be improved?

The Government has worked with local government, iwi and water industry leaders to create a detailed, affordable plan to make sure our three waters system is in good condition to meet challenges like population growth, climate change and natural disasters.

Under this plan four new publicly-owned Water Services Entities will run New Zealand’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services – currently operated by councils on behalf of communities.

The Government’s plan will build these new Water Services Entities (WSEs) on the foundations of existing council infrastructure, people, and expertise. The plan is designed to give the new water organisations the financial flexibility to make the necessary upgrades more affordable for everyone.

The Water Services Entities Bill

The Government has introduced to Parliament the first piece of legislation to make these changes – the Water Services Entities Bill. As well as setting up the new entities so they can be ready in two years’ time, the Bill locks in council ownership of the WSEs on behalf of the communities, by making councils the sole shareholders. Councils will have one share per 50,000 people in their area, rounded up – so each council will have at least one share.

The legislation ensures communities will have a say in the running of the new water organisations through council and iwi oversight, while giving them the financial and operational independence they need to get on with the job.

Read the Bill (on

The Select Committee

The Select Committee finished receiving submissions on the Water Services Entities Bill on 22 July. The Committee will now listen to oral submissions from members of the public, local government and organisations. Learn more and keep up with the process by clicking the button (link) below.

New Zealand Parliament website

Listen to Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta talk about why the Government is proceeding with reform.

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