The foundations for clean affordable and sustainable drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services for New Zealanders have been secured with Parliament passing legislation establishing four new publicly owned Water Services Entities.
The Water Services Entities Act is the first of three pieces of legislation that will ensure affordable drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services can be provided to New Zealanders now and into the future.
The Act locks in community ownership and oversight of the new water services entities through local government’s role as shareholders.
The Act also ensures the entities have the financial and operational independence they need to deliver safe efficient and affordable water services for New Zealanders.
The new system requires two further pieces of legislation which have now been introduced to Parliament for consideration and public feedback over coming months.
The Water Services Legislation Bill will make sure the new Water Services Entities have the necessary legal functions, responsibilities, and powers to get on with their work on 1 July 2024.
It includes recognition and respect of the Crown’s Te Tiriti o Waitangi responsibilities and also recognises the importance of local water services for rural communities.
Importantly, the Water Services Legislation Bill includes measures to prevent overcharging by Water Services Entities in their first years of operation and to ensure services are affordable to all New Zealanders including those with low incomes.
A third piece of legislation, the Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill provides a detailed longer-term framework for ensuring Water Services Entities provide affordable and well managed services.
This third Bill will also ensure Water Services Entities are held to account for providing consumers with a decent level of service when they have queries or complaints.
The Bill will establish a Water Services Commissioner within the Commerce Commission as a public watchdog to promote consumer interests.
The public will have the opportunity to have their say on both pieces of legislation when they are referred to Select Committee shortly.
You can read more about the Water Services Legislation Bill here.