Three Waters Reforms

What you need to know

  • The Central Government proposal would see responsibility for the delivery of New Zealand’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services shift from 67 councils to four publicly-owned Water Service Entities (WSEs). 
  • Under the proposal, councils will be written into law as owners of the assets but will not be financial shareholders. All financial aspects will be managed by a Governance board.
  • Under the current proposal NPDC would join a WSE serving 800,000 people spanning Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, plus Whanganui, Ruapehu and Rangitikei. 
  • According to Department of Internal Affairs analysis, the average household three waters cost in our WSE is estimated at $4300 without reform but $1220 with the reforms.
  • NPDC will get $31.5 million from a $2.8 billion fund the Government has established to help make the changes.

Next steps

  • Councils have until 1 October to give feedback on the proposed reforms.
  • NPDC is digesting all of the information so that we fully understand what is being proposed by the Department of Internal Affairs and why. 
  • Central Government is the decision maker for these reforms, Councils have been asked for input.
  • NPDC has not come to a collective view on the reforms yet. 
  • The Mayor and Councillors met at an extraordinary meeting on 21 September and voted to provide feedback (report below) to the Government on the proposed Three Waters Reform subject to the inclusion of “we do not expect government to take this feedback as support for this reform. We also expect Government to undertake full select committee process before making any final decisions.”



Who is behind the proposed 3 Waters reforms?
The Department of Internal Affairs has developed the Government’s proposals for four new water entities. Councils across Aotearoa, including NPDC, need to give feedback by 1 October. The Government will decide next steps after that.

Will the WSEs be privately run or sold off?
Under the proposal, councils will be written into law as owners of the assets but will not be financial shareholders. All financial aspects will be managed by a Governance board.

So why did NPDC provide for $248million of investment in water infrastructure in the 10-Year Plan?
Our aging three waters network is in serious need of upgrading and the work needs to be done regardless of if it is Council or a WSE under the reforms. Our Council wishes to be responsible stewards of our assets. This means planning for and fixing the problems that we are aware of.

How will this affect existing NPDC Three Waters staff?
Our Three Waters staff and infrastructure would move into the new WSE, but the Government has assured us they’ll keep working in our district for the foreseeable future. 

How will you invest the $31.5 million in Government support funding?
It’s too early to say. 

Is there a question mark over which WSE Taranaki is in?
Taranaki and the northern part of the Manawatu/Whanganui region, along with Coromandel and top of the South Island, are areas where the Government is open to further feedback from iwi/hapū and local councils before making a final decision on the WSE’s.

It’s a big call, shouldn’t there be a referendum where ratepayers can have their say?
At this early stage there are far too many variables and unknowns to hold a well-informed referendum. 

Why hasn’t NPDC declared its position publicly on the proposed reforms?
It is early days and the Council is keeping an open mind as it works through a large amount of information.  The Council will consider a substantive report (in an open meeting) later in September. Any resident is welcome to attend that meeting.