Tim Dower: Three Waters reform is not the answer

Author
Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 Dec 2021, 9:14AM
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

Tim Dower: Three Waters reform is not the answer

Author
Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 Dec 2021, 9:14AM

Three Waters is back on the agenda today. 

23 local councils are going to Parliament to make their opposition clear. 

That's around a third of the local bodies affected by Three Waters, but it doesn't mean the other 44 are all on board. 

And they're right to be suspicious of it. 

Three Waters will take away all those council-owned drinking water systems and the storm water and the wastewater...and hand it over to four unelected regional bodies. 

Now, when the Minister is asked to explain why we need to do this at all, she points to the Havelock North incident five years back. 

And fair enough, that was terrible. Drinking water contaminated with sheep faeces, thousands of people made sick and at least four dead as a result. 

Not good enough. 

We also have major problems in some of our bigger centres with broken down old systems that leak sewage when it rains. 

Not good enough. 

Then you've got the Auckland issue; a massive failure to build and upgrade, despite milking huge fees from developers to connect new builds to the network. 

Not good enough. 

But each of these problems is distinct to each of the local bodies in charge. 

Local bodies spending millions on cycle lanes no one wants, millions more on pie-in-the-sky crazy economic and social projects which are not even their business, let alone their area of competence. 

Pick up the rubbish, fix potholes in the streets and provide a decent water supply and sewage system. 

I'm not pretending there isn't a problem with water. 

But Three Waters is not the answer. 

It's got nothing to do with improving water, but everything to do with centralising power and snatching assets from those councils which actually have done a good job.