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4.3 Million Users And No One In Charge

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

If you need a definition of fragmented look no further than how we manage water, says New Zealand's largest water industry representative organisation, Water New Zealand today.

"There are 4.3 million users, 73 local utilities, 12 regional regulators and 11 government departments involved in managing our most significant economic asset - and no one in charge." said Water New Zealand Chief Executive, Murray Gibb.

Announcing the themes for its annual conference Mr Gibb says it's time for change and a move away from fragmented governance arrangements for water.

"Water 2020 - from fragmentation to efficiency is the core theme for what will be New Zealand's largest gathering of water industry experts, commentators and participants," he said.

Being held in Rotorua from 23 to 25 September, the Annual Conference will discuss the linked issues of governance, management and reform.

"With reforms on the horizon this theme, and the issues that will be explored at the Conference is very timely and topical for all New Zealanders," says Mr Gibb.

"Water New Zealand is committed to debating these issues in a public and transparent manner. We hope to, over time, bring more clarity and focus to them as we believe water, as a New Zealand issue, is too important not to," says Mr Gibb.

"As such our Annual Conference in Rotorua will bring together the broad cross-section of policy and industry representation with an interest in water and discuss the efficient management of New Zealand's water resources."

Close to 1000 people, from local and central government, as well as policy makers, engineers, planners, technicians, asset managers and water industry specialists and suppliers will be attending. Conference delegates will hear from three keynote speakers including:

Hon Dr Nick Smith, Minister for the Environment.

Dr Michael Bassett, political historian and commentator;

Mai Chen, public law specialist and founding partner of Chen Palmer; and

Other speakers include, Ciaran Keogh - CE of Environment Southland, Bob Frame - Principal Scientist from Landcare Research, Jim Hodges - Chief Engineer Watercare Services, Onno Mulder - CE of City Care and Dr Rob Davies-Colley - Principal Scientist for Aquatic Pollution from NIWA among many other industry specialists.

The Conference Programme will feature a panel discussion entitled Public Use & Private Property Rights. Panellists are Stephen Franks, Director/Partner of Franks & Ogilvie Law Firm, David Green, former Queensland Water Commissioner and Director of the Murray Darling Basin Authority, Guy Salmon, Executive Director of Ecologic Foundation and Dr Terry Heiler, member of the Infrastructure Advisory Board.

Mr Gibb said that water was often treated as the "invisible" resource and few people appeared to understand the significant economic role it played.

"There is no one that the water debate does not affect and as a nation it is clear water, its future use and management will have a very significant impact on our prosperity." said Mr Gibb.

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