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Time is Running Out to Have Your Say Hawke’s Bay

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If you want to have your say on who owns and manages your three waters services, time is running out.

The first round of legislation that would see Hawke’s Bay councils lose local control and ownership of your three waters assets and services is being considered by Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Select Committee and you have until this coming Friday to tell them what you think.

The Water Services Entities Bill proposes that responsibility for your drinking, waste and storm water services would transfer from your local council to a new super-entity covering all of the East Coast of the North Island, down to the top of the South Island, and the Chatham Islands as well.

All council-owned three waters infrastructure and services, and the people in council who manage and maintain them, would transfer to the new entity. All decision-making and accountability would disappear into the new entity as well.

Nobody argues there aren’t good reasons to change the way three waters are delivered and managed.

Across New Zealand, councils and their communities are faced with huge looming costs because of ageing infrastructure, historical under-investment, source water contamination, better resilience needed from the impacts of climate change and natural hazards, and changes in population.

Government estimates New Zealand will need to invest $120 billion to $185 billion in three waters infrastructure over the next 30 years. Their view is that the council delivery model will not be able to afford to address these challenges and transformational change is needed.

The big question is just what that transformational change should look like.

In Hawke’s Bay, your councils have worked together to come up with an alternative to the status quo that would deliver:

• Safe, reliable and resilient three waters services that would be affordable for all Hawke’s Bay’s rural and urban communities.

• A meaningful role for Māori, with the value of water at its heart

• Services that build enduring capability and capacity now and into the future.

Government agrees with each one of these objectives. So why would they not consider the model we came up with? It would address the affordability issue for communities across our region and it would ensure ownership and decision-making stays in our region.

Government has chosen not to consider the model we put forward, saying it would not achieve the scale advantages of the super-entity model they want.

Instead, they have introduced legislation that would establish a model stripping local communities of control and distancing decision-making and accountability from the very people paying for the services. The have ignored the credible alternative of a Hawke’s Bay solution that would achieve the outcomes we all want and would keep responsibility and accountability in our region, in your community.

In our submissions to the Select Committee on the Water Services Entities Bill, we will once again beat the drum and advocate for the outcome that best serves the needs and interests of Hawke’s Bay’s rural and urban communities.

We encourage you to have your say too. The Select Committee is calling for public submissions on the Water Services Entities Bill until midnight this Friday the 22nd of July.

Making a submission is easy and it’s your chance to make sure politicians hear what you think and what’s important to you.

If you don’t think your voice will make any difference, think again. These are the biggest changes to the way crucial services are delivered to you and your community in a generation.

Their impacts will be felt for generations to come. Your voice counts.

You can find out all about what’s proposed and what it means for you, and how to make a submission at hb3waters.nz.

19 July 2022

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