Better Water is Better For Everyone

Hon. Nanaia MahutaMinister of Local Government

All New Zealanders deserve safe, reliable, and affordable water services that support good health and sustainable environmental outcomes. But our three waters — our drinking water, wastewater and stormwater networks — are facing a crisis.

Fixing our water systems so they're safe for the future will cost too much for councils alone.

The Government has confirmed it will create four publicly owned water entities for the benefit of all New Zealanders. These new entities will work with councils and communities to deliver better health and wellbeing outcomes for our communities and protect our environment for generations to come.

To read the Minister of Local Government's announcement, go to the Beehive Website.

Here are some key facts:

Water assets will stay in the hands of all New Zealanders

Under the reforms the new water entities will be owned by councils on behalf of the communities they serve.

Read more from the Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta.

40,000 people lived with boil-water notices in 2020*

A new independent water regulator will ensure all water standards are enforced. The reforms will make sure we can afford the upgrades needed to meet the standards, seeing fewer boil-water notices and greater protections for the environment.

* Ministry of Health 2019/2020 water report.

Safe drinking water is essential for healthy communities

An estimated 34,000 New Zealanders become ill each year from drinking poor-quality water.

Read more about this in the Ministry of Health’s Preliminary Report on Estimation of the Burden of Water-Borne Disease in New Zealand.

Local priorities & voices guaranteed

The water entities will have to consult with the communities they serve on their direction, investment priorities and charges. Entities will also be required to show how they have taken that feedback into account when determining their asset management plans.

Read more about this and the Government's approach (see also: page 21, point 117).

Ongoing consultation will refine the details

Continuing conversations with local government and Iwi/Māori will provide guidance for the shape of our future three waters system.

Read more from the Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta.

Water services will be publicly owned & locally managed

Pipes will stay in the ground, local employees will look after them and a public referendum will protect against privatisation.

Read more about this and the Government’s approach (see also: page 7, paragraphs 46-51).

A system to deliver vital services at affordable costs

An estimated $120 billion to $185 billion over 30 years is required to maintain and upgrade our three waters networks. Reform will make this manageable and improve water quality.

Read more about the projected costs to maintain and upgrade infrastructure in the Water Industry Commission for Scotland Final Report - Economic Analysis of Water Services Aggregation.

All New Zealanders deserve good water services

The Government has announced a new way to ensure all communities have safe, affordable drinking water, and wastewater and stormwater networks that protect our environment.

Read more from the Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta.

Fixing wastewater to better protect the environment

Half of all sewage plants may have to be upgraded in the next decade to meet public expectations and stricter environmental regulations.

Reform will make this more affordable for communities. Read more about this in the GHD-Boffa Miskell report – National stocktake of municipal wastewater treatment plants and Water New Zealand’s National Performance Review 2019-2020.

Have your say on protecting our water services

At the right time, New Zealanders will be able to suggest how to improve communities’ access to safe affordable and sustainable water networks through the public select committee processes.

Information will be available on the Parliament website when submissions are open.

See What This Means for You & Your Community