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Local councils, including Auckland, revolt against Government's water plan

The country's water supplies are to be split into four, and councils nationwide are revolting already.

Drinking water - file. Source: Seven Sharp

Estimates are that fixing our drinking, storm and waste water will cost the country between $120 and $185 billion, according to a report by the Water Industry Commission for Scotland.

The Government’s undertaken a massive review of our three waters system, with the latest proposals creating animosity between central and local government.

Boundary proposals in the Government's water reforms. Source: Supplied

The plan will see power over water taken out of the hands of councils and local government and into the hands of four entities, divided geographically.

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta says the case for change is compelling and the system is in too many cases "ineffective, inefficient, and not fit for purpose".

"The Government has considered the evidence and proposes that four large water entities will create an affordable system that ensures secure delivery of safe drinking water and resilient wastewater and storm water systems," she said.

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Fixing NZ's creaking water infrastructure could top $185 billion, reports find

The local authorities will own and manage water supplies, with mana whenua having a joint ownership role.

Representatives will be voted on to a board and the government is stressing public ownership is a bottom line.

Auckland and Northland will be one region, with an area from Hamilton to Whanganui representing region B.

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Power and ownership will be taken out of the hands of local government and split into four entities. Source: 1 NEWS

The Wairarapa through Hawke’s Bay to Wellington will be region C and the entire South Island will be region D.

The mayor of our biggest city, Phil Goff says while he supports water reform, the plans will not work for Aucklanders.

He says control of water assets and ability to put the needs of Aucklanders’ first is undermined by the reform.

For instance, Auckland would have less than 40 percent of current representation in the new entity, despite 92 per cent of the assets coming from Auckland.

He has questioned the Government’s costings.

"The supposed benefit of cheaper water costs, projected to be half the costs of an unreformed sector by 2051—30 years out—simply cannot be relied upon as being real."

Whangārei District Council has also signalled it won’t take part in the reforms.

All councils were required to provide information about the state of their water infrastructure and system to the Government, but some have expressed concern about the consultation process.

At the moment, some councils serve 100,000 or fewer ratepayers.

The Government says changing that to four regions will see economic benefits and better meet the needs of local communities. The size of population represented in the new plans vary from 1.7 million in the Northern region to 800,000 in the Hamilton to Whanganui zone.