Joint Central/Local Government Three Waters Steering Committee Update, 16 April 2021

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 distribute this information within your council

  • We are approaching a key part of the reform process, where important decisions are to be made. It is vital for council staff and elected members to be fully informed with all the information to help them in this process.
  • However, we understand as a council you may want to supplement our communications with your own information and therefore ask that you cascade this information internally.

Reform programme workshops

  • Work is progressing on a summary report on our March engagement workshops.
  • The report will summarise some of the key themes that emerged during the workshops.
  • We hope to be able to post it on the Reform Programme webpage in the next couple of weeks and email it through to participants as soon as it is available.
  • Approximately 960 participants attended these eight workshops. In addition, the two pre-workshop webinars have been viewed/attended by over 400 times.
  • The presentation materials and pre-workshop webinar recordings are available on the reform programme webpage here: Engagement Materials
  • Your feedback and reflections at these workshops have been fed back to the Steering Committee and the team at the Department of Internal Affairs, to inform the evolving advice.
  • We will continue to engage on elements of the reform programme as we progress this work.
  • The Department of Internal Affairs, Taituarā and LGNZ will also continue to undertake ongoing targeted engagements and discussions with the sector and iwi/hapū.

Progressing policy work is well underway

  • Key decisions on features of the reform programme will be taken by Cabinet in mid-2021 and communicated to the sector shortly after this.
  • This includes, decisions on the numbers and boundaries of the proposed entities, governance arrangements and mechanisms to ensure Treaty rights and interests are met, and your communities and consumers keep a strong voice in the proposed new entities.

Firming up the evidence base

  • The evidence base is firming up as we get closer to Cabinet decisions.
  • WICS is finalising its phase 2 study, which builds on the phase 1 analysis using more detailed and up-to-date data from local authorities collected through the RfI and considering the impacts of population growth.
  • Based on the RfI data, the DIA team will be in a position to provide assessments of councils’ balance sheets following any transition. This will be part of a carefully contextualised package of information to assist councils in their conversations with communities on the reforms.
  • Two independent reviews have been commissioned in relation to the WICS study:

i. Farrierswier are reviewing the methodology and underlying assumptions to ensure these are reasonable for the purpose of providing policy advice to Ministers

ii. Beca are reviewing the standards applied in the water industry in the EU/UK with New Zealand to understand any likely differences that might either under- or over-state the forward investment requirements in the WICS analysis.

  • Deloitte are also undertaking a full Economic Impact Analysis assessing the broad impacts of the reform package, including the implications for industry development. This work is also close to completion.
  • We hope to be able to share this information in due course.

Public information and education campaign

  • The Steering Committee is being kept informed of developments in the Government’s Public Information and Education Campaign.
  • One of the primary purposes of this is to impress on New Zealanders how critical safe drinking water and sound wastewater and stormwater services are for our health, environment and economic development.
  • It will also highlight some of the funding challenges we face as a country in maintaining and renewing the associated infrastructure.
  • The Steering Committee will have two local government members on a small panel to provide advice on the campaign’s direction and messages.

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