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Water Management Needs Reform

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Water Management Needs Reform

9 February 2009 - NZWWA CEO, Murray Gibb, is urging government to continue its reforms and rationalise water management in New Zealand.

"The question must be asked why a country of only four million people needs over seventy water utilities and twelve separate regional water regulators," said Mr Gibb.

"With the imminent release of the Royal Commission's report on Auckland Governance it is appropriate that wider reform of the current local and regional government framework as it applies to water - its management, quality and use - be considered."

Mr Gibb said this kind of fragmentation was inefficient and flew in the face of the trend in other OECD economies.

"Recognising its critical role in sustaining life and a healthy economy, water is more commonly managed by central agencies.

"Consistency is vital for the sustainable usage and affordable access of water for domestic, industrial, agricultural, recreational, and cultural purposes as well as for environmentally sound treatment and disposal practices and the maintenance of waterways.

"Twenty odd years ago we abandoned an integrated holistic approach to water management, opting instead for regional control. Despite Regional Governments' best efforts using the tools available under the Local Government and Resource Management Acts it is time to recognise that this model isn't working," said Mr Gibb.

"New Zealand is one of the few OECD countries that do not employ a central agency for water. While they vary in form all tend to assume administrative and regulatory responsibilities for water, be the conduit for Government assistance programmes for water, and have responsibility for long term water resource planning including but not limited to freshwater catchment and waterway management, wastewater, stormwater, irrigation, and water collection, storage, supply and re-use."

"History tells us that radical reform of public policy and institutional arrangements in New Zealand has always risen out of times of economic hardship. Think Vogel in the 1870's, the Liberal Government of the 1890's, and administrations flowing from the Great Depression and the poor economic performance of the late 1970's and early 1980's."

"Facing another serious economic downturn, and with the new Government recognising infrastructure as a priority, it is an appropriate time to take bold and decisive action so New Zealanders, both urban and rural, are ensured continuing safe, efficient and affordable access to water and the economic benefits resulting from its use", said Mr Gibb.

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