“Linking funding to commitment from councils to reform the investment, planning and delivery of their water assets is a welcome move,” says New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga Chief Executive Ross Copland, in response to the Government’s announcement of $761 million to help councils upgrade water services across New Zealand.
“The decision to focus this investment on Councils who commit to work with the Government on three waters reform is a pragmatic, incentive-based approach to unlocking the procurement and operational efficiencies which can be gained through consolidation.
“We look forward to seeing clear plans from councils on the practical steps they will be taking towards reform.”
Mr Copland says today’s announcement acknowledges the urgent need for assistance with water infrastructure assets and renewal.
“This is a very encouraging sign that the Government recognises the critical importance of robust water infrastructure and acknowledges the sectoral challenges with traditional funding to address the investment backlog.”
The Havelock North inquiry found that almost 20 percent of New Zealanders are supplied with water that is not demonstrably safe to drink. Approximately 20 percent of treated drinking water is lost within public networks due to leaks.
Te Waihanga supports the Government’s decision to establish a Water Regulator, Taumata Arowai, and sees this as an important step in maintaining public confidence in safe drinking water as a fundamental human right.
“Leadership will be the critical ingredient as local government collaborates to find common ground in this challenging space. We encourage councils to embrace this opportunity to reset the funding and delivery of water services within their communities.
“Te Waihanga acknowledges the enormity of the policy, delivery and funding challenges the sector is facing. An overhaul of service delivery and funding arrangements will enable safer, more affordable and reliable three waters services across the country at a lower aggregate cost to ratepayers.”