Local government's four principles:
Fix drinking water first: Havelock North has shown urgent action is needed in the drinking water space, and any reform process should make this a priority. The Government needs to set hard drinking water standards, and establish a strong regulator to police these standards
Let existing regulations run their course: Wastewater and storm water assets are long-lived, and it takes many years of planning and investment to change performance outcomes. New freshwater quality standards were introduced in 2017, and we should allow efforts to meet these standards to run their course before introducing new requirements.
Take mandatory aggregation off the table: Local government strongly opposes mandatory aggregation of water assets as one-size-fits-all policy making. The economic literature shows aggregation can be an effective tool to produce service delivery efficiencies in some cases, and so needs to be applied on a case-by-case basis, not as a blanket policy for New Zealand.
Incentives matter: Central government should focus on getting the incentives right to drive behaviour. Setting hard quality across all three waters, backed by rigorous compliance enforcement, will force service providers to lift their performance. At the same time it will open the door to innovation, as service providers experiment with different technologies and ownership models to meet these standards.
Mr Cull noted that while there are challenges at the margin, by and large New Zealand's water system is far from broken. He underscored the sector's willingness to work with Government to put the appropriate reforms in place.
"As a sector, local government accepts that change is coming to the way we provide water services to our communities. Our 20th century service delivery model cannot cope with current and future population and land use change pressures," said Mr Cull.
"We're open to embracing this change with central government by collaboratively working on a range of policy options to deliver the quality of water, be it waste, storm or drinking, that our communities deserve. What we don't want is a policy fix that fails to recognise the reality that New Zealand is made up of a multiplicity of diverse communities."
The principles stem from LGNZ's extensive work on three waters and freshwater policy, through the
3 waters project and more recently, Water 2050.
For more information, please contact LGNZ Senior Communications Advisor Daniel Webster on 022 524
1217 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About our work on 3 Waters
Read the full Local government position statement on water here.
Read the 3 waters issues paper here.
About LGNZ and local government in New Zealand
Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) is the peak body representing New Zealand's 78 local, regional and unitary authorities. LGNZ advocates for local democracy, develops local government policy, and promotes best practice and excellence in leadership, governance and service delivery. Through its work strengthening sector capability, LGNZ contributes to the economic success and vibrancy of communities and the nation.
The local government sector plays an important role. In addition to giving citizens a say in how their communities are run, councils own a broad range of community assets worth more than $120 billion. These include 90 per cent of New Zealand's road network, the bulk of the country's water and waste water networks, and libraries, recreation and community facilities. Council expenditure is approximately $8.5 billion dollars, representing approximately 4 per cent of Gross Domestic Product and 11 per cent of all public expenditure.
For more information visit www.lgnz.co.nz.