Mayor calls for pause on Three Waters

7:30 pm on 16 April 2022

"Let's just pause the proceedings." That's what Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown is hoping for as a minimum as the fight against the controversial Three Waters reform continues.

Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown.

Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown believes there should be a pause on Three Waters progress until the regulator is in place and the affected parties are all on the same page. Photo: Supplied

Brown joined representatives from the 32-member councils of Communities 4 Local Democracy in Wellington to present politicians with a plan for Three Waters reform, which they believed could gain wide support.

The mayors presented a 10-point plan for reform to the Minister for Local Government Nanaia Mahuta and Department of Internal Affairs officials.

"She said she would look at it and consider it, but time will tell," Brown said.

"The biggest part for me is pause. Just pause and give us time to get the regulator in place and see if councils can meet the regulations, which haven't all been finalised yet.

"They are still building that aeroplane while it's flying."

The Three Waters proposal centred around the management of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater assets out of the hands of the country's 67 councils to four large entities, with the aim of providing better water services around the country at a lower cost.

But the Ashburton district had given a clear message they were not in support of the Government's reform model, and wanted the process stopped, Brown said.

"We've spent a lot of money over the years to make sure our three waters infrastructure is maintained to a high standard,'' he said.

"This council has a long-held policy to renew pipes and other infrastructure before they break, and to plan ahead for growth."

In the past 18 months, he said the council had replaced the wastewater pipes under the Ashburton River that led to the treatment facility at Wilkins Road, and put in new sewer lines from Bridge Street to future proof the area.

The ongoing upgrades to drinking water, including new membrane treatment plants approved for Methven and Mt Somers, highlight the council's commitment to delivering quality services to the community, he said.

Other councils needed assistance with three waters services, but Brown said the new model proposed by government was not fit for purpose. He just hoped ministers would listen carefully to feedback.

"We all want safe drinking water and so we are keen to work with government on a solution that works for everyone.

"We must keep the two-way discussion going."

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