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Councils welcome Government’s support for collaboration on three waters

The five councils of Hawke’s Bay today welcome the Prime Minister’s announcement on three waters reform and Government funding to support regional three waters investment.

In Havelock North this morning, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced:

  • A $761m package for three waters investment over the next twelve months, the first of several expected tranches, with $50m earmarked for Hawke’s Bay’s councils.
  • An invitation for councils to work with Government to co-design and support multi-regional three waters service delivery entities.

Since early in 2019, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council, Hastings District Council, Napier City Council, Wairoa District Council and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council have been working together to review the current and potential service delivery options for drinking, waste and stormwater (three waters) for all of Hawke’s Bay. The project aligns with the five councils’ strategic priority for the 2019-22 triennium – water safety, security and planning.

Sandra Hazlehurst, Mayor of Hastings District Council says the five councils of Hawke’s Bay are well advanced with a comprehensive evaluation of the potential options for achieving an affordable, sustainable regional solution and very grateful of the contribution Government has already provided toward this.

“Investment in 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.

“There is considerable work to do on ensuring the security and affordability of our three waters services over the long term across all of Hawke’s Bay. We are delighted Government recognises the collaborative approach we are already committed to in Hawke’s Bay,” says Sandra Hazlehurst.

Alex Walker, Mayor of Central Hawke’s Bay District Council says she is pleased to see Government’s inclusive and voluntary approach to three waters reform.

“This means together, Hawke’s Bay’s communities are in a very good position to consider Government’s proposal and to form a view on how councils can collectively use this opportunity to find the best long-term solution for three waters service delivery, that meets the needs of all our communities.

“Today’s announcement from the Prime Minister is a strong endorsement of the robust and collaborative approach we are taking. Our three waters services are critical to the communities we serve, and they link to our economic, social, cultural and environmental outcomes. It is important to get this right for our region.

“Wai [water] does not recognise boundaries and neither do our communities. That’s why it makes such good sense for the councils of Hawke’s Bay to be working together to find the best regional solution for the future security and sustainability of our three waters services,” says Alex Walker.

Mayor of Napier City Kirsten Wise says she supports the flexible approach Government is taking, enabling councils to continue investing in water infrastructure as they consider the reform proposal.

“We welcome this stimulus funding for investment in three waters. As a region we are well down the path of compiling the data on our three waters infrastructure. We look forward to sharing this information with both our community and central Government to enable us to decide on our next steps,” says Kirsten Wise.

Craig Little, Mayor of Wairoa District Council says he is pleased Government is committing to a collaborative approach with local councils and communities in exploring sustainable regional three waters service delivery options.

“For the Wairoa community, it is crucial that we have a part in the design of the best solution to meet the needs of our community and not have an outcome imposed on us,” he says.

Alex Walker says in April, the councils collectively submitted a bid for $314m of Government investment funds for three waters infrastructure upgrades in Hawke’s Bay to the Crown Investment Programme.

“While many councils across the country did the same, what’s different here in Hawke’s Bay is that the review process we have underway meant we were able to collaborate on our application, setting out a joint approach to delivering the work. It clearly demonstrated the benefits we can achieve for the whole region - value for money, boosting jobs and generating much-needed economic activity as the region recovers from Covid-19. The $50m Government has announced for immediate infrastructure repairs and maintenance is a welcome first step.”

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chair Rex Graham says while today’s announcement doesn’t directly affect the Regional Council’s role as regulator, he is convinced a regional service delivery approach is the best way to ensure all communities, regardless of their size, can meet the standards they need to.

“Without a joint approach, smaller communities will always struggle to comply with the regulations. I’m pleased to see Government looking to support regions like Hawke’s Bay to come up with solutions that work best for all our communities – rural and urban,” Rex Graham says.

8 July 2020

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