The Government has introduced legislation that gives effect to changes to the water services programme announced in April 2023.
The Water Services Entities Amendment Bill forms part of the legislation to ensure drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services are upgraded to meet future challenges while remaining affordable for New Zealanders.
The Bill reflects changes to the water services programme announced by the Government in April 2023.
The Bill makes the required changes to the Water Services Entities Act to establish 10 water services entities based on existing regional boundaries and introduces a staggered approach to establishing the entities, with all entities going live between 1 July 2024 and 1 July 2026.
The Bill also provides for Community Priority Statements, a new way for local people to have a say in how the new water services entities operate and their impact on local waterways.
Other key changes in the Bill include:
- A process for locally-led voluntary mergers between water services entities;
- A backstop financing option for water services entities, if required, to ensure they can borrow to invest in the delivery of water services;
- Arrangements to allow for shared services between water services entities to improve the provision of water services and ensure affordability for customers.
The Bill also provides clarity that councils will continue to provide water services to communities during the period for establishing the new entities, including detailed arrangements for long-term planning, reporting, and rate setting over this period.
Details of the select committee process which will give the public the chance to have their say on the Bill will be provided soon.
The Government expects to pass the Water Services Entities Amendment Bill, the Water Services Legislation Bill and the Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill before the House rises for the General Election.