Menu

Safe and affordable water for all

Safe, healthy water

Saving Kiwis money

Better for our environment

With our Three Waters programme, we’re fixing New Zealand’s water infrastructure and ensuring Kiwi families don’t have to foot the bill through huge rates increases.

We believe all New Zealanders deserve safe, reliable and affordable water services that keep our families and our environment healthy. But after years of neglect, our three waters – our drinking water, wastewater and stormwater networks – are facing a crisis. Pipes are crumbling, people are getting sick and our waterways are contaminated with sewage.

This needs to change. Here’s how our Three Waters reform will ensure all New Zealanders have safe, healthy water, while saving Kiwis money.

New Zealanders have seen the effects of a water system in crisis: people dying from bacteria in drinking water, broken sewer pipes, poorly treated wastewater running into streams and rivers, no-swim notices at the beaches, regular boil-water notices, and lead contamination.

Without reform, Kiwis are going to face very large bills for water services, or infrastructure will be left to break down, putting people’s health and our environment at risk. We believe that both of these outcomes are unacceptable.

With our Three Waters programme, we’re fixing New Zealand’s water infrastructure and ensuring Kiwi families don’t have to foot the bill through huge rates increases.

We’re creating four new water service entities to make sure all New Zealanders get the high-quality water services they deserve, no matter whether they live in our biggest cities or heartland provincial communities.

These four publicly-owned entities will upgrade and maintain the water services in each community in their area. This will mean individual councils – and ratepayers – aren’t left with the ballooning costs of fixing our water systems.

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

Without reform, some Kiwi households could be facing water service bills as high as $9,000 a year.

Our plan, which sets out a more cost effective system to manage New Zealand’s water, will save Kiwi families thousands of dollars.

You can find out more about how much your household could save, here.

There’s been a lot of work done to make sure New Zealanders have safe, reliable, and affordable water services – and there’s been a lot of consultation to get the settings right. Here’s an overview of the process so far:

  • After years of neglect, our water networks are facing a crisis. Pipes are crumbling, people are getting sick and our waterways are contaminated with sewage. Councils can’t afford to upgrade this infrastructure without passing extra costs on to households.
  • In 2020, the Government announced the Three Waters reform programme to fix our water infrastructure and ensure all New Zealanders, no matter where they live, have safe, affordable drinking water.
  • As part of this, an independent working group was commissioned to report back on the best option for our communities. The working group was made up of local government and iwi representatives, ensuring local communities could have a say on the way forward.
  • The Government accepted the vast majority of the working group’s recommendations in early 2022.
  • We’ve now taken the next step in our plan to fix New Zealand’s water infrastructure and save households money with the Water Services Entities Bill. This Bill was introduced to Parliament in June.

You can find out more about the process and the consultation that’s been undertaken, here.

After the first reading of the Water Services Entities Bill, it will be referred to select committee where members of the public, Māori/iwi, industry and local government are welcome make submissions.

Submissions are likely to open in June 2022.

Yes.

If we don’t act now:

  • New Zealanders will keep getting sick from water that isn’t safe, and people’s lives will continue to be at risk. Each year around 34,000 Kiwis become sick from their drinking water, and tens of thousands of Kiwis are forced to boil their water because of faecal contamination.
  • Kiwi households will face increased rates and water bills. Some Kiwi households could be facing water service bills as high as $9,000 without our reforms.
  • The lack of infrastructure in the ground will continue to get in the way of affordable housing now and in the future.
  • Our environment, waterways and beaches will continue to be damaged and polluted with raw sewage.

Fixing our water systems so they're safe for the future will cost up to $185 billion over the coming decades. Local councils can’t afford this, so they’ll either be forced to pass on the costs to families through increased rates and water bills, or leave critical infrastructure like pipes to break down, putting people’s health and our environment at risk.

This is unacceptable, so we’re taking action.

To ensure local communities have real input, the new water entities will not only be required to consult with their local communities they serve, they’ll also be required to show how they’ve taken that feedback into account when determining their plans.

Yes. Public ownership is a bottom line and we’re putting in place strong protections against privatisation that will make sure this infrastructure is safeguarded for future generations. Through a shareholding arrangements, the water service entities will be owned by the councils they serve.

The four new water entities created by the Three Waters reform will be owned entirely by local councils.

However, each entity will have two levels of governance to ensure communities are well represented. A regional representative group will be created to represent the interest of the local community, where half of its members will be from councils and half will be from mana whenua. The boards of the entities, who oversee the day-to-day operations and appoints the Chief Executive, will be based on the individual skills of the members and the boards’ combined knowledge, not whether a person is from a council or mana whenua.

Safe, healthy water

Right now, many communities around the country that are unable to access safe and reliable drinking water. Each year around 34,000 Kiwis become sick from their drinking water, and tens of thousands of Kiwis are forced to boil their water because of faecal contamination.

We believe that all New Zealanders deserve better.

Our plan makes sure that New Zealanders, no matter whether they live in our biggest cities or heartland provincial communities, can access safe, reliable and affordable drinking water now, and into the future.

Saving Kiwis money

New Zealand’s three waters — our drinking water, wastewater and stormwater networks — are facing a crisis. But fixing our water systems so they’re safe for the future will cost too much for local councils, so they’ll be forced to pass on the costs to families through increased rates and water bills. Without reform, some Kiwi households could be facing water service bills as high as $9,000 a year.

Our plan fixes New Zealand’s water infrastructure and makes sure that Kiwi families don’t have to foot the bill through huge rates increases. It’s a plan that will save households thousands of dollars.

Better for our environment

When our wastewater and stormwater systems are under pressure, we see burst pipes in our streets and sewage spilling onto our beaches and into our rivers. New Zealanders expect more from our essential services.

Our plan makes sure our water networks are future-proofed, that our environment is healthier, and that more Kiwis can go swimming in their local river, or at the beach.