Local say on water issues important
by Mike Isle
Like many others who call Canterbury home, I am very proud of our aquifer-fed drinking water supplies. We have a unique and special resource, and I am therefore wary about the prospect of centralised decision-making, which could see Wellington bureaucrats decide to impose mandatory chlorination of our drinking water.
Unfortunately, the indications from Local Government minister Nanaia Mahuta appear to suggest that this may be an outcome from the Three Waters Review, which has been investigating the state and performance of New Zealand’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems.
The minister appears to be leaning towards the option of compulsory amalgamation of local authority water services despite councils around the country expressing their concern about this.
It is disappointing that the minister has pushed out the deadline by announcing that proposals for the regulation of drinking water standards will not go to cabinet for discussion until June next year, with actual decisions not being made until the end of 2019.
The minister had previously given the impression that she would give local authorities more information about the regulation of drinking water standards by October this year. Unfortunately, these delays by the minister make it difficult for local authorities such as the Selwyn District Council to commit to future projects to address growth and ageing infrastructure in their annual and 10-year plans when it is not clear what regulations the minister is going to impose on them.
In some cases, ratepayers do not agree with the decisions of their local authorities when it comes to the management of their water, wastewater and stormwater assets, as has been the case recently with consents relating to the operations of a water bottling plant in the Christchurch suburb of Belfast.
However, I am sure that when faced with the prospect of decisions around chlorination of water, for example, many Cantabrians would prefer that such decisions were made in the local context, rather than being dictated at a national level.