Guaranteeing safe and affordable water for all New Zealanders

Everyone should be able to get safe drinking water from their tap, and swim at their local beach without worrying about contaminated water. We’re taking action to make this a reality for all New Zealanders.

Fixing New Zealand’s aging water infrastructure is a long-term challenge – and one that successive Governments have ignored. As a result, 34,000 New Zealanders get sick from drinking water each year, and many councils regularly have boil notices in place. Beaches are frequently closed over summer, because sewerage discharge makes them unsafe for swimming.

New Zealanders deserve better. That’s why we’re reforming New Zealand’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems. This will not only ensure our water is safe and clean, but will also mean Kiwis aren’t left with skyrocketing water costs into the future.

Right now, 67 different councils own, manage, and operate most of New Zealand’s three waters services on behalf of their communities. The majority of these councils don’t have the revenue required to meet the full costs of running these services and assets. This means families will have to pick up much of the paycheck to keep tap water clean and sewerage treatment plants running.

We’re putting in place a new system to fix New Zealand’s water services. Our reform will create four new publicly-owned entities that will have the scale, funding, and efficiency to finance and manage water services in a way that councils can’t. This will save Kiwi families thousands of dollars a year in water costs, and will ensure communities can afford to upgrade aging water infrastructure.

Without this reform, household water costs are projected to rise by up to $9,000 per year by 2051, and we’ll keep seeing burst pipes, contaminated water and environmental degradation.

Our plan will not only mean safer, more affordable water – it will also create jobs. This reform is expected to add up to 9,000 jobs across rural and provincial New Zealand over the next 30 years – with a boost to our economy of up to $23 billion.

We’ve undertaken extensive engagement and sought local and international expert advice, and everyone reaches the same conclusion: this plan offers the most cost-effective way to guarantee safe drinking water and the $185 billion of investment needed in water infrastructure over the coming decades.

Going forward, we’ll continue to work with local government to make sure this reform is working for communities. A working group of local government, iwi, and water industry experts is being established to work through these elements and provide opportunities for public participation. 

It’s clear that all communities in New Zealand will benefit from this reform – getting better quality water services and paying less than they would otherwise have done. Our approach to Aotearoa’s three waters will save Kiwis money (amounting to thousands per year for many households), keep water assets in public ownership, create jobs across the country, and boost growth.

You can read more about our plan, here

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