Three Waters Reform

About the Three Waters Reform

The NZ Government will make a law to create four new water entities that will take on the drinking, waste and stormwater assets that are currently owned by councils. This change will happen in 2024. Until then, water will continued to be managed by Wellington Water.

Approximately $185 billion is needed to fix, upgrade and maintain New Zealand’s water services over the next 30 years.

A working group of local government, iwi and water industry experts is being established to consider governance and accountability arrangements for the new entities, as well as provide an opportunity for public participation and consultation.

Why the change is happening

The Three Waters reform proposal followed the deaths in 2016 of four people  from water contamination in Havelock North – 35 people were hospitalised and many of the local community fell ill.

The Government launched an inquiry, then introduced new legislation to strengthen regulation and provide clearer oversight of the three water networks. A new water services regulator Taumata Arowai was established to support these reforms.

The Government also looked at how the three water services are currently delivered. It acknowledged the challenges faced by councils, including the need for affordability.

This led to the Three Waters Reform programme and an agreement that central and local government would partner to move the reform forward.

Next steps

Under the new regime, the Government says that councils will retain ownership of water services through the four new entities, and local communities will retain influence over how the assets are run through the councils.

The Government will create the working group before November 2021 and legislate in December 2021. Feedback via the select committee process will get underway early in 2022.

The four new water entities will take responsibility for water services in July 2024.

For more information