Group presents water plan

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Ashburton mayor Neil Brown has joined mayors and chief executives representing the 32 member councils of Communities 4 Local Democracy He hapori mō te Manapori (C4LD) in Wellington to present politicians with a plan for three waters reform that could gain wide support.

The mayors presented their 10-point plan for reform to the Minister for Local Government Nanaia Mahuta and Department of Internal Affairs officials, as well as Green Party co-Leaders Marama Davidson and James Shaw, and Green MP Eugenie Sage.

The group had already presented its models to the National Party and ACT.

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

“We’ve spent a lot of money over the years to make sure our three waters infrastructure is maintained to a high standard. 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 we’ve replaced the wastewater pipes under the Ashburton River that lead to our treatment facility at Wilkins Road, and put in new sewer lines from Bridge Street that will capture the hundreds of new homes to be built that area in the near future.”

Mr Brown said ongoing upgrades to drinking water, including new membrane treatment plants approved for Methven and Mt Somers, highlighted the Council’s commitment to delivering quality services to the community.

He said while other councils needed assistance with three waters services, the current model proposed by Government was not fit for purpose and he hoped that 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.”

Manawatu District mayor and C4LD chair Helen Worboys said that the group is keen to work with all parties to ensure any reforms have the broad base of support needed for major long-term infrastructure investment.

“The proposals we’ve brought to the table enable the Government to deliver on all its aims, create opportunities for strong and lasting partnerships and deliver safe, sustainable and affordable water services for all New Zealand,” she said.

“They enable us build on existing partnerships and forge new relationships with Mana Whenua at a local level that consider co-design and partnership arrangements to acknowledge and enable Te Tiriti based pathways at a local and regional level.

“They also provide for the continuation of local influence and community property rights.
“We’re confident that we’re in line with the majority of New Zealanders. We’ve presented a reform framework that is directly supported by nearly half of councils in New Zealand and is aligned with the views of the majority of other councils, most notably Auckland representing 1.7 million people.”