August 2023 – Three pieces of legislation giving effect to the Government’s reform of water services delivery were enacted in late August before Parliament rose for the general election.
The Water Services Entities Amendment Act and Water Services Legislation Act will be incorporated into the Water Services Entities Act, the core piece of legislation enacting the reform. The Act provides the framework for establishing 10 water services entities, including their functions, powers, and tools for their work, and arrangements for the transition to the new system.
The Water Services Entities Act will be complemented by a separate Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Act (led by MBIE) that establishes an economic regulation and a consumer protection regime as part of the reform of water services.
The majority of the legislation will come into force from 1 July 2024, except for some provisions that enable preparations to be made for the transition leading up to July 2024.
On 25 August 2023 the Minister for Local Government released a preliminary recommended schedule for the establishment dates for the nine water services entities outside of Auckland/Northland. This stated the current preliminary ‘go live’ date for the Wellington region’s Entity G was 1 October 2024 and the Minister was seeking feedback from councils on this.
July 2023 – On 27 July the Governance and Administration Select Committee reported back on the Water Services Entities Amendment Bill
This bill gives effect to its reset changes announced in April 2023 and contains additional policy decisions and transitional arrangements for local government long-term planning, reporting, and rate setting over this period.
Council submission on this amendment bill is available here(PDF, 112KB). You can find more information about the latest bill and the Select Committee report on the Parliament website.
The Government intends to pass all legislation (three bills) to give effect to the water services reforms before the House rises for the General Election on 31 August 2023.
June 2023 – On 8 June the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee reported back on the Water Services Legislation Bill and the Water Services Economic Regulation and Consumer Protection Bill.
On 16 June the Government introduced a new amendment bill to give effect to its reset changes announced in April 2023. The Water Services Entities Amendment Bill also contains additional policy decisions and transitional arrangements for local government long-term planning, reporting, and rate setting over this period.
You can find more information about the latest bill on the Parliament website including the accelerated public consultation process, open until Wednesday 5 July.
April 2023 – The Government announced changes to the water services reforms. The changes are designed to strengthen the connection between local communities and their water services provider while ensuring affordability of services for households.
For more details about the changes and what is proposed, see this fact sheet(PDF, 6MB) or visit the Water Services Reform website.
The Government intends to introduce and pass legislation to allow for these changes before this year’s election. This will be subject to the Parliamentary timetable and processes, and include the opportunity for public feedback.
Key aspects of the changes announced are:
- Moving to 10 publicly owned, specialised water service entities, rather than the four entities originally proposed.
- Under the 10-entity model, every territorial authority owner – and therefore every community – will be represented on their respective entity’s regional representative group.
- The 10 new entities will ‘go live’ in a staged approach, from early 2025 to 1 July 2026, rather than the original start date of 1 July 2024 for all entities.
February 2023 – Consultation closed on the latest legislation enabling the reform to progress.
View Upper Hutt City Council's submission to the Finance and Expenditure Committee on the Water Services Legislation Bill(PDF, 115KB) and the Water Services Economic Regulation and Consumer Protection Bill(PDF, 124KB).
December 2022 – The Government introduced two new pieces of legislation further enable the reform to be implemented. The Water Services Legislation Bill and the Water Services Economic Regulation and Consumer Protection Bill are open for public submissions until 12 February.
November 2022 – on 11 November the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee issued its report on the Water Services Entities Bill. The Bill establishes four publicly owned dedicated water services entities that will provide safe, reliable, and efficient water services through improved investment and management.
The Committee considered over 80,000 submissions on this legislation. As a result of submissions, approximately 130 amendments have been made to the Bill. Given the Bill has 228 clauses (plus schedules), the number of changes to address feedback is substantial and significant.
You can find more information in this summary of the proposed(PDF, 160KB) changes or the full Select Committee report on the NZ Parliament website.
August 2022 - Council considered a report and agreed to allocate the first tranche of $3.9M in better off funding to six initiatives. These are now underway in either planning or early delivery stages.
- Development of an Integrated Transport Strategy for Upper Hutt $500,000
- Sustainability Strategy Community Engagement programme $200,000
- Sustainability Stimulus Grant additional funding $200,000
- Maidstone Park sand turf floodlights installation $1,000,000
- City centre upgrade project water main renewal $1,000,000
- Pinehaven Stream flood protection project additional funding $1,000,000
July 2022 – The Chair of the Government Finance and Expenditure Committee is calling for public submissions on the Water Services Entities Bill. You can make a submission at the New Zealand Parliament Website Water Services Entities Bill. Closes 22 July.
View Upper Hutt City Council's submission to the Finance and Expenditure Committee(PDF, 153KB)
June 2022 - on 2 June 2022, the Government announced legislation which will enable the creation of the new Water Services Entities (WSEs). National consultation opened on 10 June 2022.
As well as setting up the new WSEs so they can be ready in two years’ time, the Bill locks in council ownership of the WSEs on behalf of the communities. Councils will have one share per 50,000 people in their area, rounded up – so each council will have at least one share.
The legislation is trying to ensure communities will have a say in the running of the new water organisations through council and iwi oversight, while giving WSEs the financial and operational independence they need to get on with the job. Although the governance and feedback structure is quite complex and convoluted.
Read the Bill online at legislation.govt.nz. You can have your say on the ownership, governance and accountability arrangements of these new entities in the Bill by making a Select Committee submission. Visit parliament.govt.nz to find out more about this process. We are also making a submission.
You will also be able to give your views to the select committee until 22 July 2022.
March 2022 - in March, Councillors voted to sign up to Communities 4 Local Democracy. We’re one of 31 councils representing around 1.5 million people from Cape Reinga to the Waitaki River and from Haast to Mahia. Communities 4 Local Democracy believe that we can do better than the ‘one size fits none’ proposals from Government, and that we can deliver better services while still being affordable and locally responsive.
Communities 4 Local Democracy supports the higher standards being put into place by the Government’s new water regulator Taumata Arowai. Local Government is ready to work together to deliver these improvements while keeping locally focused and responsive services. To find out more and to read the proposal, go to communities4localdemocracy.co.nz
December 2021 - the Government announced the Three Waters Entities Bill will be delayed to give the working group time to recommend changes to governance and accountability. Draft legislation has been prepared and will be made public, giving the working group until 28 February to report back and recommend any changes. The bill would be introduced to Parliament shortly after.
November 2021 - we launched a residents survey to seek feedback from our community on the Government’s decision to go ahead with the Three Waters Reform, despite concern and opposition raised by councils from across the country. The survey closed on 28 November and a report on the results went to Council on 15 December. The Government also named the Three Waters working group and released the terms of reference.
Initially the Government said there would be a community engagement process, where local communities would be given the opportunity to express their views and provide feedback about the Three Waters Reform.
In the most recent announcement, the Minister for Local Government indicated there will not be a local community consultation process. Instead, communities/public will have an opportunity to provide feedback through the select committee process.
October 2021 - the Government announced they would be progressing the Three Waters Reform. You can watch the announcement and read a summary of local Government feedback on the proposal on the DIA website.
September 2021 - Council submitted its feedback to Government on the Three Waters Reform(PDF, 297KB).
July 2020 - along with announcing the Three Waters Reform, the Government also announced an initial funding package of $761 million to provide a post COVID-19 stimulus to maintain and improve water three waters infrastructure, support a three-year programme of reform of local government water service delivery arrangements (reform programme), and support the establishment of Taumata Arowai, the new Waters Services Regulator.
The initial stage (Tranche 1 – Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Funding Agreement, Delivery Plan and Request for Information (RFI) process, was an opt-in, non-binding approach. It did not require councils to commit to future phases of the reform programme.
We completed the RFI process over Christmas and New Year 2020/21 and the Government has used this information, evidence, and modelling to make preliminary decisions on the next stages of reform and has concluded that the case for change has been made. Here is the full report on the case for change.