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AboutHe Kōrero mō te Arotake

About Hawke's Bay's Three Waters Review

About Hawke's Bay's Three Waters ReviewGovernment is reforming the three waters regulatory system, meaning anyone responsible for three waters systems will need to change the way they deliver three waters services (drinking, waste and storm water) services. Councils across the country will need to adapt their approaches to meet the new requirements. 

Central Hawke’s Bay District Council, Hastings District Council, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, Napier City Council and Wairoa District Council, have been working together to review the current and potential three waters (drinking water, wastewater and stormwater) service delivery options for Hawke’s Bay, Te Matau-a-Māui. 

Here in Hawke’s Bay, heightened community expectations about water and water management  and the Review aligns with all five councils’ shared strategic priority for 2019 to 2022 – water safety, security and planning – agreed by the Hawke’s Bay Leaders Forum in November 2019. As councils, we all share the same responsibility for ensuring our communities can enjoy safe, reliable, resilient, efficient and affordable three waters services. 

In short:

  • New regulations and standards are coming which require change
  • Future affordability challenges need to be addressed, especially between urban and rural councils
  • For Hawke’s Bay to thrive, we need core infrastructure and services at a cost that is affordable across the region.

The focus of our review was to complete an assessment of the current state of council three waters services in Hawke’s Bay, and develop a recommended approach to ensure sustainable delivery of these critical services over the long term. The review followed a structured, staged process:

  • A current state assessment
  • Definition of key objectives and principles
  • Analysis of a long and short list of future service delivery model options and their impacts on Councils. 

Guiding our Review were the following six objectives that were developed and agreed through a series of workshops with council leaders, employees and Māori committee representatives:

Six Objectives

These objectives are further supported by the following principles developed through engagement with our Māori committees:

Regional Objectives

Our independent Review of current water services and potential future service delivery options is now complete and has been formally delivered to councils (for information only) and made public. The recommended preferred option is a regional asset owning CCO (council controlled organisation), that best meets the Review’s investment objectives and principles. 

Key findings and recommendations of the Hawke’s Bay three waters review report:

  • Making no changes to the way our three waters services are delivered is not affordable or sustainable
  • Meeting the new regulations under current service delivery arrangements poses significant affordability challenges for our region and particular our smaller councils
  • The Review’s forecast investment in three waters infrastructure across the region to meet new drinking and waste waters standards is estimated to at least double since councils’ 2018-2028 Long Term Plans from $313m to $605m
  • Five service delivery options were shortlisted and considered against regional objectives and cultural principles
  • An asset owning council controlled organisation was the preferred service delivery model as it best met Councils’ investment objectives and the cultural principles developed collaboratively with Councils’ Māori Standing Committees. In particular, the model:

 -   Addresses regional affordability challenge associated with new standards and regulations
 -   Is able to concentrate its investment on three waters priorities
 -   Delivers the scale required to create strategic capacity and capability
 -   Enables a meaningful role for Māori (including co-design and governance)
 -   Enables improved operations (risk management, asset management, ability to meet compliance requirements
 -   Produces the greatest savings.

There are also challenges in adopting a regionalised service delivery model, in particular:      

  • Perceived inequity that arises when councils transfer different levels of three waters-related debt and assets of varying condition to an asset owning CCO. Where this happens, some ratepayers may feel that they are inheriting someone else’s problem
  • Regionalising three waters rates to reduce the costs of three waters services to an affordable level across the Hawke’s Bay means Napier ratepayers may pay more for three waters than they otherwise would (under the enhanced status quo).

Moving to a regional service delivery model means that costs for most ratepayers will be lower than the expected future costs, while for some, theirs will be higher. This will be a challenge for every region in New Zealand.

The timing of the Hawke’s Bay three waters review report coincides with the four Hawke’s Bay councils opting in to the first phase of discussions with Government on their proposed three waters service delivery reforms.

Because we have worked together to commission an independent in-depth assessment of the issues and options for the future of three waters service delivery across the region, we are in a very strong position to represent the interests of Hawke’s Bay in our engagement with Central Government through the reform process to solve the challenges that come from regionalisation of three waters services.

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