MAYOR: Future of Three Waters reforms

Published: 15 February 2024

I was pleased to hear this week that Government would repeal the Three Waters reforms next week and replace them with a model that is much more akin to our Council’s thinking.

The new legislation will ensure Councils meet water standards and consistently invest in their assets – this is something that we’ve done fairly well in Mid Canterbury over the decades and our latest Long Term Plan has details of improvements that will help make sure we continue to hit those targets.

When you see road cones on our urban streets, it’s a good bet that water or wastewater pipes are being renewed or the reticulation network expanded. It’s essential core work and our urban ratepayers all belong to a big group where everyone pays the same set charge and the work gets done.

While we are confident we could go it alone, teaming up with other like-minded councils in the interests of efficiency and economy of scale also makes sense, so we will be having conversations with our neighbours.

Government’s version of the reforms, Local Water Done Well, is largely what we and many other councils that belong to Communities 4 Local Democracy have been advocating for, and that is to deliver the necessary infrastructure while respecting community property rights.

Different areas are in different positions and the new legislation will allow us to work together:  We will continue to keep doing important three waters investment in our district but also find out what a regional model looks like, and if there are economies of scale.

We just want the best option for our communities, and that wasn’t the one size fits all approach of the previous government.

We have been working with staff on the final words for the Long Term Plan consultation document, due to be released to the community on 27 March. You’ll be seeing and hearing a lot about this 10-year plan and our engagement approach will include some formal meetings but we’ll also be attending community group and service club meetings, having road shows and popping up in places where we know people will be.

We’ll also be promoting the consultation across our digital platforms and collecting feedback in many ways, including traditional surveys, public forums and quick polls.

Our website will also host a wealth of Long term Plan information, including the consultation documents, frequently asked questions and other supporting information.

We're calling this Long Term Plan, "Five for the Future" in recognition of five big questions we have for the community:

  • What should our kerbside green waste collection look like?
  • Should we invest in aquatic water play and where/what should it be? (this includes an option to refurbish the Tinwald pool)
  • What should we do with Balmoral Hall and the old Polytech land?
  • Should we get out of providing stockwater?
  • When should we extend EA Networks Centre stadium (and by how much)?

Don’t be afraid to tell us what you think when feedback opens on 28 March.

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