3 waters reform announcement welcomed
Mayor Don Cameron said that Ruapehu welcomes central government's release of information on the reform of the 3 waters (drinking, storm and wastewater) sector.
“Under the government's proposal water services will be delivered by one of four multi-regional entities from 1 July 2024.
In Ruapehu's case we would be part of 'Entity B' that includes northern Manawatu-Whanganui, Taranaki, Bay of Plenty and Waikato,” he said.
“Up until now we have supported the 3 waters reform process in return for funding that is allowing us to upgrade our water systems in-line with the new compliance standards.
Without further financial support however meeting the government's new compliance standards for water would see our debt balloon to over $100m.
While our ratepayers have supported Council undertaking an accelerated capital works program to meet these new standards within five years they are very uncomfortable with the debt implications.
Despite this announcement Council was required to consult on its new Long Term Plan as if it would continue to own and operate our water assets into the future.
We had signalled however that we anticipated that by the time of our next Long Term Plan in 2024 that we would no longer provide water services or hold the associated debt.”
Mayor Cameron said that Council will look closely at the proposals that appear to offer benefits to a rural district such as Ruapehu with a small rating base.
“We expect to receive further information to clarify key issues such as debt shortly.
At this point Government has advised that participation in the reform process is voluntary however this may change if the larger councils don't want to take part.
If Government keeps the remain in, or opt-out option open, we will be seeking the views of our communities on the proposals once we have more detail,” he said.