Structural reform of water services is pointless unless we manage land better & prioritise action to protect clean drinking water sources.
Access to clean, affordable water is a basic human right and a public good.
— Green Party NZ (@NZGreens) April 13, 2023
Today the Government adopted a long held Green Party position to increase the number of water entities to ensure a closer connection with communities they serve. However, despite the rebrand, significant concerns remain.
“Access to clean, affordable water is a basic human right and a public good. While we agree that increasing the number of water entities will go some way to upholding this right, not enough has changed in the rebrand to reassure us that public ownership will be guaranteed and nature protected,” says the Green Party’s spokesperson for water services, Eugenie Sage.
“Right from the start, the Green Party was clear that only four entities would be too unwieldy and disconnected from the community. We are pleased that the Government has finally taken this on board.
“But let’s be clear: structural reform is pointless unless we manage land better and prioritise action to protect clean drinking water sources. Today’s rebrand doesn’t go anywhere near as far enough to protect nature.
“The key infrastructure that needs investment is that which nature provides: the lakes, the rivers, the aquifers, which are the sources of our drinking water. The Our Freshwater 2023 report released yesterday should have made it patently clear to the Government the need to safeguard and clean-up drinking water sources as part of its three waters reforms.
“Long term investment is vital for improving infrastructure to guarantee affordable access to safe, clean water, and effective wastewater services, including in the face of the worsening effects of climate change. It is disappointing that the Government is pressing on with a corporatised approach to funding and investment.
“Rather than continuing to allow for balance sheet separation, options such as a Crown guarantee for borrowing should have been investigated further to allow councils to be more closely accountable to their communities, while allowing them to invest in improving services.
“The failure to separate stormwater management is another missed opportunity. Managing stormwater needs to stay as the responsibility of local councils because of the connection between land use and stormwater volumes and quality.
“The Green Party also remains concerned that the Government continues to leave the door open to future privatisation of water services. Stronger safeguards to guarantee public ownership now and for future generations is essential.
“The Green Party will continue to push for an approach to water that better connects the entities with communities while enabling them to properly invest in clean, safe, climate-resilient water services for present and future generations,” says Eugenie Sage.