The Government has taken a decisive step towards ensuring safe drinking water and more efficient wastewater and stormwater networks with the first reading of the Water Services Bill, Local Government Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta says.
The Water Services Bill provides the mechanics of the regulatory regime that Taumata Arowai, the new water services regulator, will administer, and will detail the powers it will have.
“Under current arrangements we cannot have confidence that all our communities have safe drinking water,’’ Nanaia Mahuta said.
“Those arrangements were subject to significant criticism by the Havelock North drinking water inquiry.”
The Bill strikes a balance between incentivising drinking water suppliers to take responsibility for their supplies – a key principle promoted by the Havelock North inquiry – and giving Taumata Arowai a modern regulatory framework to promote good practice, compliance, and enforcement.
The requirements imposed on drinking water suppliers need to be fit for purpose. The Water Services Bill contains a framework to ensure that the requirements can be tailored differently to large, capable council suppliers, and to small suppliers such as marae or community supplies.
“The Bill also requires all persons who have functions or duties under the Bill to give effect to Te Mana o te Wai. This mirrors obligations imposed under the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management
“This will require councils to engage with tangata whenua in areas such as source water protection or water management decisions.
“The Government is committed to reforming the way three waters is regulated and delivered and this Bill is a significant milestone in achieving this,’’ Nanaia Mahuta said.
The Bill has been referred to the Health Select Committee. The Minister encourages all interested parties to submit on the Bill, once the committee calls for submissions.