Local Water Done Well legislation

Local Water Done Well is being implemented in three stages, each with its own piece of legislation.

1.  Repeal of previous water services legislation
2.  Establish framework and preliminary arrangements for the new water services system
3.  Establish enduring settings and begin transition

Updated: 18 July 2024

Establish framework and preliminary arrangements for the new water services system

The Local Government (Water Services Preliminary Arrangements) Bill establishes the Local Water Done Well framework and the preliminary arrangements for the new water services system.

It lays the foundation for a new approach to water services management and financially sustainable delivery models that meet regulatory standards.

Key areas included in the Bill are:

  • Requirements for councils to develop Water Services Delivery Plans (within 12 months of enactment)
  • Requirements for councils to include in those plans baseline information about their water services operations, assets, revenue, expenditure, pricing, and projected capital expenditure, as well as necessary financing arrangements, as a first step towards future economic regulation
  • Streamlined consultation and decision-making processes for setting up water services council-controlled organisations (water services CCOs)
  • Provisions that enable a new, financially sustainable model for Watercare.

In addition, the Government has tabled an amendment paper to the Bill which provides for interim changes to the Water Services Act. This amendment means the Te Mana o te Wai hierarchy of obligations in the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM) will not apply when Taumata Arowai sets wastewater standards. 

The Bill was introduced to Parliament on 30 May 2024 and was referred to the Finance and Expenditure Committee for consideration.

The Committee reported back to Parliament on 18 July 2024. Key areas of recommended change by the Committee include:

  • Water Services Delivery Plans (WSDPs) – clarifying that WSDPs are a one-off requirement, allowing councils to include information covering a 30-year period, requiring that all WSDPs must include an implementation plan, and requiring councils to give effect to the proposals or undertakings specified in an accepted WSDP
  • Ministerial powers in relation to WSDPs – expanding the roles of Crown facilitator and Crown water services specialist to include assisting, advising and/or directing councils in relation to giving effect to the proposals in a WSDP
  • Improving the process and implementation of foundational information disclosure, as a first step towards the full economic regulation regime, through the development of WSDPs
  • Watercare – providing that the Secretary for Local Government prepare the charter in consultation with Auckland Council, adding a purpose statement to guide the preparation and making of the charter, and clarifying that regulation is limited to water and wastewater services provision (so that it does not apply to goods or services supplied by Watercare in competitive markets).

A full copy of the Committee’s Report and the revised Bill is available on the Parliament website.

Read the overview of key aspects of the Bill (PDF, 321 KB)

Read the Bill in full and follow the Bill's progress on the Parliament website.

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Establish enduring settings and begin transition

The Government intends to introduce further legislation in December 2024 that will establish the enduring settings for the new water services system.

Key areas expected to be included in the Local Government Water Services Bill include:

  • Setting long-term requirements for financial sustainability
  • Providing for a range of structural and financing tools, including a new class of financially independent council owned organisations
  • Considering the empowering legislation for Taumata Arowai to ensure the regulatory regime is efficient, effective, and fit-for-purpose, and standards are proportionate for different types of drinking water suppliers
  • Providing for a complete economic regulation regime to ensure consumers pay efficient cost-reflective prices for water services that are delivered to an acceptable quality and that water services providers are investing sufficiently in their infrastructure
  • Establishing regulatory backstop powers, to be used when required to ensure effective delivery of financially sustainable and safe water services.

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Repeal of previous water services legislation

In February 2024 the Government introduced and passed legislation to repeal all legislation relating to water services entities.

The Water Services Acts Repeal Act repealed the Water Services Entities Act 2022, Water Services Legislation Act 2023 and the Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Act 2023.

The Act reinstated previous legislation related to the provision of water services (including local government legislation). This restored continued council ownership and control of water services, and responsibility for service delivery. 

The Act includes some transitional support options to help councils complete their long-term plans, depending on their local needs and circumstances. The Act also includes transitional provisions that enable councils to defer the review of water services bylaws, under the Local Government Act 2002.

Read the Water Services Acts Repeal Act on the Legislation website.

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