Water reforms would provide few benefits to Aucklanders

Publish Date : 27 Oct 2021
City Towards Harbour

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says that while the government’s three waters reforms are designed to address problems in water services elsewhere in New Zealand, they would provide little benefit to Aucklanders and would come at the cost of Auckland losing control over water services that represent 28 per cent of the city’s assets.

“We support the intent of the reforms but what they mean in practice is that Aucklanders would have imposed upon them a water services entity which has no democratic accountability to them through elected representatives,” he says.

“Aucklanders are being asked to give away control over assets they have built up over generations.

“Auckland would contribute 94 per cent of the assets acquired by the new water entity and get in return a minority voice on an oversight committee which in any case would have no effective power of governance and no ability to ensure responsiveness.

“The Minister lists the poor quality of water services, unsafe fresh water, and inadequate investment in infrastructure as the reasons for the needing reform. While that may be true in some areas, it is not true in Auckland. Auckland provides the highest standard of drinking water in the country and its wastewater treatment is also the highest standard in the country.

“Far from underinvesting in infrastructure, in this year’s 10-year Budget, Auckland Council has invested $11 billion in water services for the coming decade. Projects like the $1.2 billion Central Interceptor address problems like wastewater overflows and will dramatically improve water quality of our beaches and harbours.

“For all the above reasons, the overwhelming majority of councillors voted to reject the governance and accountability structures proposed in the three waters reform, and all 21 of Auckland’s local boards are opposed to the governance arrangements set out in the government’s proposal.”

“I welcome the government’s acknowledgment of the need for changes in their proposals in this area. We will participate actively and constructively in the new working group the government is proposing to improve the reforms.

“We will be proposing that the Water Services Entities, while operationally independent and able to set water prices independently, will retain their accountability and responsiveness to the people they serve through councils.

“Auckland Council also intends to consult with the people we represent to ensure that that we are accurately reflecting the views of our constituents in the position we put forward to government,” Mayor Goff says.

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