The Government’s response to the Three Waters Working Group on Representation, Governance and Accountability is another step towards addressing the serious infrastructure deficit challenge facing the water sector.
Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe says that despite being critically important to the health, economic and environmental wellbeing of New Zealanders, the sector has been largely invisible with thousands of kilometres of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater network pipes buried underground.
She says recent discussions about the state of our ageing infrastructure have again highlighted the need to ensure water services are not forgotten about.
“Today’s response to the 47 recommendations from the working group moves us closer to addressing the barriers that have led to the $125-185 billion deficit in water infrastructure across much of the country.
“It acknowledges the need to raise awareness of the water sector and the challenges we face in finding affordable and equitable ways to improve the safety and quality of water services.
“The Government has largely taken on board the working group’s recommendations including the need to ensure that the new service delivery model is consistent with the wider regulatory framework.
“For instance, it acknowledges the need to ensure the regulatory settings for the new water service entities, and particularly the concept of Te Mana o te Wai, which focuses on restoring and preserving the balance between water, the wider environment and people, are aligned across resource management reform, the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, Taumata Arowai and the Water Services Act, as well as future economic regulation and consumer protection.