20 May 2020
In light of the Government's Three Waters Review, Otago and Southland councils have been discussing whether a collaborative approach to water services delivery (drinking water, stormwater and wastewater) could benefit Otago and Southland communities and the environment.
Government funding has been secured that will enable the councils to undertake an indicative business case to explore viable options for the future delivery of 3 Waters services.
At Central Otago District Council's meeting on Monday this week Executive Manager – Infrastructure Services Julie Muir said the investigation would produce options that would inform further discussions and, in time, public consultation on how 3 Waters services are delivered.
"We have been advised during the lockdown that the government is proceeding with the review of 3 Waters and has a deadline of the end of 2021 for councils to consider voluntary change of water service delivery arrangements. At the same time councils are being given the opportunity to look at voluntary change the government is working on development of models for potential legislated reform.
"The work that the Otago and Southland councils have commenced is to enable the region to consider which options for voluntary change would best suit our region."
The business case is expected to take approximately eight months. It will then be brought back to councils for discussion and a decision on how to proceed. Then public consultation would follow.
The Council's 3 Waters and Waste Portfolio Lead Nigel McKinlay said he believed the changes coming from Central Government had "the potential to change radically the way in which local government is run".
"Depending on what is implemented and when it is implemented it has the potential to change the political and constitutional balance between central and local government. This is big grunty stuff that we are starting on a path down. I think this is just the opening shot of what's going to be quite a long and important process to keep our eyes and a close control on," said Cr McKinlay.
The indicative business case has been costed at $375,000. Government will fund 50% of the cost and the remaining 50% will be funded jointly by Otago and Southland local and regional councils.
A full report outlining the investigation is being presented to most councils at their meetings this month and was presented to Central Otago District Council this week.
The 10 councils are Dunedin City Council, Central Otago District Council, Clutha District Council, Queenstown Lakes District Council, Waitaki District Council, Otago Regional Council, Gore District Council, Invercargill City Council, Southland District Council and Environment Southland.