One and only chance for public submissions on 3-waters are now open!

Around our council table there is no argument that reform is needed in our 3 Waters infrastructure. However, mandating the model and removing our local voice were a step too far for the Tararua District. We have received calls and emails asking for a referendum, but this is not possible as the Government has mandated the reform and four entity models to proceed.

The public will have their one and only opportunity to have their say on the water reforms through the Select Committee process and it has never been more imperative to have your voice heard, with submissions closing on July 22. We’re also calling on the Government to ensure local communities are heard by making sure the select committee meetings aren’t heard solely in Wellington, so when you have the option of speaking in person it’s important to take that opportunity.

We need to deliver a message to the Government that people want a better form of reform respecting the decades of investment by local communities which enable them to have a real say in how their money is spent. The Tararua District is a member of Communities4LocalDemocracy (C4LD) which has developed a website to assist people in making submissions.

Working together C4LD have also developed a common-sense model for reform everyone can get behind, delivering every outcome sought by the Government. We’ve worked hard to create a model for reform that will ensure better long term water services for every community, now it’s time for our communities to take a few minutes and demand better water reform. If you don’t want to see future water services which are ‘all pay, no say’ this is your only opportunity to stand up and be counted. Every person who doesn’t take part in the process will be counted by the Government as being in support of this plan.

Submissions are now being accepted on the Water Services Entities Bill here

Council’s water staff are focussed on the safe supply of drinking water and constant monitoring and balancing of supply and demand requirements are met on a daily basis. Tararua’s seven towns have different water sources, requiring various treatments and consent conditions, including the limits on water we can take in different flows. At times these all pose different challenges in weather extremes. Our towns’ systems haven’t been future proofed in terms of growth, storage or climate adaptation. Over the next few years most of these consents will require renewing and some major decisions need to be made. Ensuring we have a voice in this process is imperative as it will determine our future opportunities.

That voice will also enable us to advocate for the prioritisation of investment in 3-Waters infrastructure. Currently we are working on challenges associated with Dannevirke’s untreated water storage dam, which we estimate is losing about 20 litres per second from a currently unidentified leak. We are focused on minimising the risks associated with providing a safe and reliable supply of water to Dannevirke. This includes support from Tokin + Taylor dam experts, regular monitoring of the dam structure and planning for the required remedial works, which may include the addition of water treatment processes, alternative supply and/or additional storage. Issues with a critical water supply asset is a real challenge and the learnings will be recorded for future decision making. Locally this is a concern for residents and businesses alike and keeping everyone informed is imperative.

For a district such as Tararua, with seven water and seven wastewater treatment plants, a better funding model is critical as the costs in meeting new environmental and regulatory requirements will be too large for our ratepayer base to fund alone. But, like any new policy and reform, the devil is in the detail and we are lacking in this area. We have one chance to consider a model which fits New Zealand and to get it right first time. Make sure your views are heard and have your say on the Water Services Bill.