Hamilton is working closely with councils in the wider Waikato and Bay of Plenty area to support development of Government’s Three Waters Services Reform.
In August last year Hamilton City Council’s Strategic Growth Committee unanimously agreed to join the first phase of the Reform. The decision meant Council committed to engaging and working with Government and other councils to explore waters reform.
Participation also allowed Hamilton to access up to $17.46 million in Government funding for new water, wastewater and stormwater initiatives in the city.
An update at yesterday’s Strategic Growth Committee meeting noted the reform programme is proceeding speedily. Government is engaging with councils and iwi in the early part of 2021, with the form and detail of the reform programme to be developed through the year. Full public engagement would come before any changes to the way water services are delivered.
Strategic Growth Committee Chair, Councillor Dave Macpherson, said while any structural changes are still some time away, it is clear Government’s intention is to develop an operational model which allows for greater efficiencies nationally.
“Water reform has been signalled for some time and Government has clearly indicated this is a priority programme. Hamilton’s planning and investment in waters means we have a strong, resilient and safe waters system for our communities but we have seen this is not the case in all parts of New Zealand,” Cr Macpherson said.
“There are significant national challenges in infrastructure provision, strategic service delivery and affordability for ratepayers which could be addressed by a reform of our structures at a national level.
“We have already identified significant additional compliance-related waters costs which are reflected in the rates and projects we are consulting on next month through our Long-Term Plan.
“As a Council, investigating regional approaches which allow us to combine skills and resources and get benefits of scale to reduce this impact on our ratepayers just makes sense.
“We want to be ready for any change and be in a position to get the best outcomes for Hamiltonians and our wider region. Without pre-empting any decision by Government, we are working with councils in the Bay of Plenty and Waikato in a ‘coalition of the willing’ to be best-prepared and consider any Government proposals,” Cr Macpherson said.
Over the next few months more information will be shared by Government on the reform and the proposed three waters model, including through a regional workshop at the end of March.
“There’s a huge amount of work to do but Hamilton, and our partners, are signalling we are ready to play our part, including identifying and addressing impacts on our residents and the common issues, opportunities or challenges for our region,” Cr Macpherson said.