Safe, affordable and locally led water

We've listened to feedback and are making major changes to the affordable water reforms, while still delivering big cost savings to New Zealand households.

Every New Zealander deserves safe, reliable and affordable water services that keep families healthy and rate bills affordable. But after years of neglect, our water services – our drinking water, wastewater and stormwater networks – are facing a crisis.

The status quo is not an option. That’s why, we’re fixing New Zealand’s water infrastructure, ensuring Kiwi families don’t have to foot the bill through huge rates increases in the future while also making sure that the work is now led and delivered at a regional level.

Locally led and delivered

Every council, and therefore every community, will now have a say over their local water services entities.

We’ve had a lot of feedback from local councils, experts and Kiwis – and we’ve heard it loud and clear. The reforms need to ensure water services are affordable for households while also being more locally led. Our changes seek to strike that balance.

We’re increasing the number of publicly owned water entities under water services reform from four to ten. Having ten entities means that every council is represented, and ensures that the needs of every community, whether big cities or small rural towns, are heard and met.

The ten new water entities will be owned by local councils on behalf of New Zealanders, and each entity will be run by a professional board made up of highly skilled experts. Strategic oversight and direction will be provided by the local council as well as mana whenua.

The entities will be closely based around existing regions, and every district council will have a say over these through regional representative groups, enabling our regions to lead and deliver these reforms.

Yes. All water services entities will continue to be publicly owned and regionally led by industry professionals, appointed by local representation.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi is an important part of our approach to the water services reform programme. Regional representative groups made up of council representatives and mana whenua will provide strategic oversight and direction to the water services entities on behalf of their communities.

We are committed to our Treaty obligations, and to working alongside iwi to ensure that the reform programme protects existing and future Treaty Settlements – while fixing our water infrastructure for the future.

Big cost savings for Kiwi families

Our new approach will deliver big savings to households.

We’re not prepared to put extra costs on Kiwis during a global cost of living crisis. Kicking the can down the road and choosing not to address our national water infrastructure comes at a cost to Kiwi families.

We know that, without reform, households will face rates rising by over $4,000 - $9,000 per year in the future.

The figures show that water services will be more affordable for Kiwi households under our reforms than they would be under the current water service delivery model.

It’s estimated that these reforms will save households between $2,770 and $5,400 a year, by 2054.

Fixing our water systems so they’re safe for the future will cost up to $185 billion over the next 30 years. Local councils, who currently manage our water systems, can’t afford this and they will be forced to pass on the costs to households through increased rates and water bills.

Our affordable water reforms will fix New Zealand’s water infrastructure and make sure that households don’t foot the bill through huge rate increases.

Reform to our water services is absolutely essential. We need to respond to long-running problems that have led to rising rates, poor health and environmental outcomes for our communities, and deteriorating infrastructure due to underinvestment. Every year at least 35,000 New Zealanders are getting sick from water that does not meet the international benchmark for clean drinking water.

These are once in a generation reforms and it’s so important that we strike the right balance. Our plan strengthens the links between the water entities and the local communities they serve, while also making sure that New Zealanders, no matter where they live, can access safe, reliable and affordable drinking water now, and into the future.

Stay in the loop by signing up to our mailing list and following us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.