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Water Services Legislation Bill passes final reading in Parliament

Parliament has passed the next key piece of legislation required to give effect to the Government’s reform of New Zealand’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services. 

The Water Services Legislation Bill sets out the functions and powers of the new water services entities, what they are required to do, the tools they need for their work and arrangements for the transition to the new system. 

Key provisions in the Water Services Legislation Bill include:  

  • Mechanisms for the transfer of assets and liabilities from local government to water services entities. 
  • Providing water services entities access to carry out work in relation to infrastructure on or under land, including safeguards in relation to how these powers are exercised on Māori land. 
  • Provisions to recognise and respect the Crown’s responsibility to give effect to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 
  • A compliance, monitoring and enforcement regime. 
  • Regulatory functions and powers, which will replace and modernise relevant existing council bylaws. 
  • A charging framework enabling transparency around pricing for consumers. 
  • Protections for vulnerable consumers including an extension of the current rates rebates scheme to cover water charges. 
  • New mechanisms to support the comprehensive management of the impacts of stormwater. 
  • A pathway for mixed-use rural water supplies to transfer from the water services entities into community ownership. 

The Bill also includes a number of technical changes to ensure the legislative regime is consistent and workable across other water services legislation. These changes ensure the Bill reflects the 10-entity model, the staggered timeframe for establishment of the entities, and the new resource management system. 

Alongside the other water services legislation already passed, once the Bill receives Royal assent it will form part of a single Water Services Entities Act, detailing the new arrangements for the provision of water services in New Zealand. 

Provisions which 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 commences on 1 July 2024. 

The Water Services Entities Act will be complemented by a separate Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Act that establishes an economic regulation and a consumer protection regime as part of the reform of water services.