Submissions are now closed on the Water Services Entities Bill, and all three Wairarapa Councils have raised concerns about the Three Waters legislation.
Masterton District Council, which is a member of the Communities 4 Local Democracy coalition, disagreed with the government’s policy approach.
The council backed the coalition’s submission, which proposed that the bill not proceed, in favor of developing a framework for local authorities to provide their own solutions for meaningful change in governance and management of Three Waters assets while retaining ownership of the assets.
In its own submission, Masterton District Council called for the Bill to be delayed to allow the community, stakeholders and Parliament to “understand the full complexity of the proposed system before proceeding”.
The Water Service Entities Bill establishes four public water service entities which aim to provide safe, reliable and efficient water services in place of local authorities. This includes the supply of drinking water, waste water and storm water.
Masterton District Council wants stormwater removed from the bill or take a transitional approach.
Each council in Wairarapa has expressed concerns over a significant loss of local voice, including a lack of adequate representation of local authority views within the regional representation group [RRG].
The Eastern Central Water Services Entity, which would serve Wairarapa, covers 21 local government organizations, 31 iwi and over 200 Marae. All of these would be brought together in the proposed RRG structure of no more than 14 representatives.
At least 14 local government organizations and 24 iwi are reportedly unrepresented in the RRG.
In its brief, the Carterton District Council [CDC] highlighted several concerns regarding the transition to the new entity arrangement.
“The roles that CDC water operations personnel undertake form an essential part of the service levels they provide,” a spokesperson said. “The loss of just two or three key employees could cause DCC’s operational capacity to collapse.
“The council strongly encourages the government to help councils retain key staff during this transition period by charging the National Transitional Unit [NTU] not actively recruit or second staff from local government organizations [LGOs].”
The CDC also expressed concern that NTU’s engagement model did not welcome comments or questions, including at the CEO level. “We believe this significantly increases the risk of a flawed transition and leads to substandard outcomes for our staff and communities.”
Individual advisors also made submissions.
Local Democracy Reporting (LDR) is public interest journalism funded by NZ On Air