Sunday, June 20, 2021
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Water Reform ‘critical’ | Scoop News


Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said information released
today about water reforms signals fundamental change is
“critical” if New Zealand is to improve the way water
infrastructure is funded and managed.

“I’ve not
yet had time to consume the detail but it’s clear there
has been huge under-investment in the waters business right
across New Zealand.”

“The numbers
I’ve seen are eye-watering. Over the next 30 years,
government is suggesting an investment of between $120 –
$185 billion in waters will be needed nationally to bring
three waters up to speed,” she
said.

“Under the existing model,
ratepayers are being forced to fund that investment either
through rates or by taking on debt. It’s simply not
affordable for any community, anywhere.”

“Going
forward, given the level of investment needed, it’s
obvious what we are doing is not sustainable; it’s already
not working in parts of New Zealand. We need to accept that
change is needed and we have to simply get on with it for
the sake of our communities.”

Southgate said there
were a mountain of issues still to work through and that the
devil would always be in the detail.

But
fundamentally, she supported the government’s desire to
see a change to the way water, wastewater and stormwater was
managed and believed a cross-boundary solution was
needed.

“Having 67 separate councils
carry on what they’re doing makes no sense to me. Without
reform, the data indicates the cost of providing water
services to our communities will be two or three times what
it is now. How can ratepayers be expected to fund
that?”

Southgate said Hamilton would
continue to work with its regional neighbours and government
on details of how the reforms might play
out.

“As far as I’m concerned, the
train is on the track now; it’s not an option to pretend
change is not needed and needed quickly. Our job is to help
guide the reform programme towards the best outcome for our
community and for New Zealand
overall.”

© Scoop Media

 



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