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HB councils welcome Government support for 3 Waters review

3waters review

The five councils of Hawke’s Bay have welcomed the announcement of Government funding to progress the region-wide review of three waters service delivery.

Wairoa District Council, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council, Hastings District Council, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and Napier City Council are working together to review the current and potential three waters (drinking, waste and storm) service delivery options for the region.

The Government announced a $1.55 million funding contribution to assist Hawke’s Bay to investigate voluntary changes to the region’s three waters service delivery arrangements.

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta said over the last 18-months, the five Hawke’s Bay councils have been collaborating to identify opportunities for greater coordination in three waters service delivery across the region.

“We are greatly encouraged by this initiative, and I would like to acknowledge the Hawke’s Bay councils’ constructive approach towards reform.”

The $1.55m for Hawke’s Bay comes following an application from Napier City Council, Hastings District Council, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council, Wairoa District Council and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to support their joint three waters investigations. The Government is providing funding on a case-by-case basis to support such initiatives.

“This Government funding contribution to Hawke’s Bay councils has been granted following careful consideration of the relevant criteria,’’ Nanaia Mahuta said.

Eligible funding applications must show evidence that proposed new three waters arrangements:
• have substantial support and commitment from multiple and/or most councils within a region, or across regions;
• retain public ownership of existing three waters assets;
• contribute towards Te Mana o te Wai; and
• address current and future challenges for the delivery of three waters services.

Funding application proposals also need to show how any proposed new service arrangements will:
• address regions’ current and future infrastructure investment needs;
• significantly improve drinking water quality for the community;
• move three waters related services onto a more financially sustainable footing; and,
• increase their resilience and adaptability in face of future risks and climate change.

“We have seen some of the advantages of regional arrangements such as Wellington Water and Auckland’s Watercare in providing modern three waters service delivery.

“This funding contribution will progress the work already begun by the councils to increase Hawke’s Bay’s ability to address challenges facing three waters services.

“It’s encouraging to see that other New Zealand councils are also looking to see whether similar collaborative arrangements might work in their regions.”

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said Wairoa has some unique challenges around the three waters, and so he welcomes the government’s help to work with other Hawke’s Bay Councils to determine whether there’s a long-term solution that can work for Wairoa and our wider region.

Having safe, resilient and affordable services is critical for our Wairoa community.

He stressed the Wairoa communities will be a big part of any decision-making and will be consulted with throughout any processes.

“At the end of the day it is important we do what is best for our district.”

The project aligns with the region’s strategic priority for the 2019-22 triennium – water safety, security and planning - agreed by the Hawke’s Bay Leaders Forum last November.

Since Councils approved the review in February 2019, the first phase has involved defining key principles and objectives, an assessment of the current state of three waters service delivery in Hawke’s Bay and preliminary analysis of potential options.

The need for investment into three waters infrastructure across Hawke’s Bay is a significant challenge and we need to be able to meet the requirements of any future changes to regulation. This review means we can fully evaluate the scale of capital, capacity, capability and operational challenges in front of us and identify the opportunities for us to work together to determine the best solution for the entire region.

The announcement of funding from Government will now enable:
• detailed analysis of the potential service delivery options including the flow-on impacts on each council;
• assessment of regional three waters infrastructure;
• assessment of potential service delivery options in anticipation of any future changes to regulation.

The first phase of the review is expected to conclude in September 2020 with delivery of a report to Councils for consideration. Further scheduled phases of the review are dependent on the approval of Councils and the Government to proceed, with completion anticipated within the second half of 2021.

The Council’s believe the funding announcement is a strong endorsement from Government of the decision of Hawke’s Bay’s five councils to collaborate on this regionally significant piece of work and the robust approach being taken.

The regional approach provides Government and other Councils around the country with a guide for tackling the challenge of ensuring three waters services that are safe, sustainable and affordable.

The Council’s acknowledged it is important to get this process right for Hawke’s Bay adding everybody shares responsibility for ensuring our communities enjoy safe and reliable, resilient and efficient drinking, waste and storm water services.

29 January 2020

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