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Water Services Entities Amendment Bill passes third reading

The Water Services Entities Amendment Bill has passed its third reading in parliament, giving effect to the Government’s refocus of water services reforms announced earlier this year. 

The Bill makes changes to the Water Services Entities Act to establish 10 water services entities based on existing regional boundaries, rather than the four entities originally proposed.  

The entities will start to deliver water services in a staggered fashion by 1 July 2026 at the latest, starting with the Northland and Auckland Water Services Entity (covering the Far North, Kaipara, Whangārei and Auckland), on 1 July 2024. 

Go-live dates for the other entities are expected to be confirmed by the end of the calendar year. 

Once established, the 10 entities will continue to be owned by local councils on behalf of the public – but they will be operationally and financially independent from them. This enables the entities to fund the significant long-term investment required.  

Each water services entity will be governed by a professional board, appointed by the regional representative group, with members appointed for their competencies and skills.  

Under the 10-entity model, every territorial authority owner – and therefore every community – will have at least one representative on the entity’s regional representative group, together with an equal number of mana whenua representatives. 

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.  

Once it receives Royal assent, the Bill (Act) will commence in stages. Provisions that provide for preparatory arrangements to be made to enable water services entities to deliver services come into force on the day following Royal assent of the Act.  

The rest of the Act will commence on 1 July 2024 (from when the Northland and Auckland Entity will ‘go live’). 

Passage of the Water Services Legislation Bill and the Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill in the coming days, as intended by the Government, will complete the legislative package to reform the delivery of New Zealand’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services.