Water New Zealand is urging the government to quickly address the uncertainty over the future of the three waters sector and support the urgent need for investment to address the infrastructure deficit.
Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe says it’s clear the current 67 water provider model is not sustainable.
“Across the country we’re seeing the stresses on the water sector on an almost weekly basis, whether it’s unsafe drinking water, pipe leakages, sewage spilling into the environment, rivers and beaches that are unsafe to swim in and more flooding and storms.”
She says it’s vital that changes to the reforms retain the scale and efficiencies needed to address the affordability issues as well as ensure that small councils are not left out.
“It’s also important that there is balance sheet separation to enable the massive amount of investment – up to $185-billion dollars over the 30 years – needed to upgrade our infrastructure.”
In a briefing to the incoming Minister, Gillian Blythe says there is an urgent need to avoid an investment hiatus and enable a well-defined, committed and funded pipeline of work.
“There is a risk any ongoing uncertainty will result in a decline in workforce capability as skilled staff move overseas or into areas with more certainty.
“We’re also seeing the effects of climate change across the country and this is putting a lot of pressure on many councils already struggling with the prospect of meeting new drinking water safety regulatory requirements.
“Many communities, including ratepayers, will be facing huge cost increases simply to maintain services if the three waters reforms do not provide for more economies of scale.”
She says the huge pressure on fresh water resources is having a big impact on the environment and many communities.
“We look forward to working with the new government to reform the sector, and deliver the transformation needed to ensure affordable, safe, clean and healthy water.”