Three Waters Reform
The three waters are drinking water, wastewater and stormwater.
Central Government is reviewing how to improve the regulation and supply of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater (the three waters) in New Zealand. This is to give New Zealanders confidence that drinking water is safe to use, sources of drinking water are adequately protected, and wastewater and stormwater are managed in environmentally sustainable ways.
The review, which began in 2017, has already delivered new legislation and the creation of Taumata Arowai, a new Water Services Regulator, to oversee and enforce a new drinking water regulatory framework, with additional oversight of wastewater and stormwater networks.
Most three waters assets and services are owned and delivered by local councils.
While addressing the regulatory issues, both central and local government have identified under-investment in three waters infrastructure in parts of the country and persistent affordability issues for ratepayers, as well as the need for additional investment to meet improvements in freshwater outcomes and increase resilience to climate change and natural hazards.
In July 2020, Government announced a funding package to local authorities to maintain and improve three waters infrastructure, and to support reform of local government water services delivery arrangements. The Government indicated that its starting intention is public multi-regional models for water service delivery to realise the benefits of scale for communities and reflect neighbouring catchments and communities of interest. There is a preference that entities will be in shared ownership of local authorities.
To be eligible for this funding, councils must take part in the initial stage of the Reforms programme. This does not commit councils to participating in further phases of the programme, or to establishing new entities or transferring assets. It is a commitment to work together with Government and regional partners to explore the local impacts of a proposal to amalgamate water assets and services, and what those changes would mean for ratepayers.
Read more at www.dia.govt.nz/Three-Waters-Reform-Programme
In Kāpiti, Council is responsible for:
- public drinking water supplies
- wastewater collection, treatment and disposal in urban areas
- managing our stormwater network.
This is no small task!
We're responsible for supplying safe water to over 23,000 connections through 570 kilometres of pipe in our district. We also test and treat 15.2 million litres of water a day to make sure it’s safe to drink. Read more about drinking water.
We provide wastewater collection, treatment and disposal for the residents and businesses of urban communities in Ōtaki, Waikanae, Paraparaumu and Raumati. We own and maintain more than 21,000 connections and more than 350 kilometres of sewers, which handle 4,700 million litres per year. We process and treat 12.2 million litres of wastewater a day. Read more about wastewater.
Our stormwater pipe network is more than 210 kilometres long, and has over 3300 maintenance access points. We provide a stormwater system to manage water run-off from our district's urban catchments while protecting the receiving environment, ensuring water quality and reducing risks to human life, health and property from flooding. We carry out a range of activities on a daily basis to keep our network in good condition. Read more about stormwater.
The Three Waters reform programme has the potential to significantly change the way critical water infrastructure and services are delivered in our district.
On the Kāpiti Coast, we have invested heavily in our water management, security and infrastructure on behalf of, and for the benefit of, our community and the environment.
Our water-related assets together have a value of $326 million, which is 36 per cent of Council’s total assets (excluding land under roads).
A further $12.7 million is allocated in this year’s annual plan to support drinking water safety upgrades, improve our wastewater treatment infrastructure and address flood risks in our district.
Because of this investment, we are well positioned for the future. A recently released Auditor-General’s report, Managing the supply of and demand for drinking water, shows that the Kāpiti Coast District Council is setting a good example in our future-focused approach to supplying drinking water.
Amalgamation could remove our responsibility for maintaining critical waters infrastructure and services. For example, Council would no longer be responsible for delivering drinking water supplies to households. It may also mean changes to how much our ratepayers pay for water and wastewater services, and who they pay for these services, in the future.
Councillors agreed that Kāpiti Coast District Council will participate in the initial stage of the programme. This agreement gives us a seat at the table, together with Government and regional partners, to explore the local impacts of the Three Water Services proposal.
In exchange for our participation, we have been granted $6.2 million to further strengthen water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure and services across the district. This needs to be spent by March 2022. Read more about:
- this decision, at Kāpiti Coast to participate in initial stage of Three Waters reform.
- Council’s advice and recommendations on the initial stage of the Three Waters Reform programme in Council minutes, Three waters reform programme – Memorandum of understanding and funding package (item 9.4).
Any decision to participate further in the Three Waters Services Reform programme will be subject to a Council decision. Working with our community is very important to us, and we will not make any significant decisions about our water, wastewater and stormwater assets and the provision of these services without talking to our community first.