New Zealand

Canterbury mayors welcome $100m funding but feel rushed on water reforms

Canterbury mayors say they feel rushed into signing up to drinking water reforms that are a condition of their new $100 million Government funding package.

The region’s $100m is the biggest chunk of a national $761m fund earmarked for councils to fix three water problems.

Three water infrastructure – providing drinking, waste and storm water services – are being reformed after 5000 people became ill and four died in a Havelock North campylobacter outbreak in 2016.

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced on Tuesday how the fund would be split among regions.

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To get the cash, councils must sign up to the Government's three waters reform programme, the funding agreement with the Crown, and a memorandum of understanding, by August 31.

They then have until September 30 to decide how to apportion it among themselves.

Some Canterbury mayors said while they welcomed the announcement, they needed to consult communities and make decisions before the deadline.

Selwyn mayor Sam Broughton said there were important discussions to be held about reforms that would have an effect for years.

“This is of huge importance to all of us in Canterbury, and it’s really rushed.

“It’s important to talk it through and we have some very important decisions to make.”

Selwyn mayor Sam Broughton says the decisions being made will have long-term effects.

John Kirk-Anderson/Stuff

Selwyn mayor Sam Broughton says the decisions being made will have long-term effects.

Broughton said the fund should enable Selwyn to bring forward some of its planned water improvements.

Waimakariri mayor Dan Gordon said they would take a considered approach to discussing the reforms with the community.

"I would’ve liked more time. We are working to the Government’s timetable, rather than one that works for our councils.

“I don’t see the need to rush this.”

Acting Christchurch mayor Andrew Turner said the documents were detailed “and the council will need to take the time to carefully consider their content”.

“Investment in our water networks is of utmost importance to us here in Christchurch.”

Turner said the council would decide on the proposed memorandum, the funding agreement and associated funding contributions, at a special meeting on August 25.

In the lead up to the meeting, it would work closely with other authorities, iwi and rūnanga, he said.

Acting Christchurch mayor Andrew Turner says the city council will decide on the proposed drinking water reforms at a special meeting.

Joe Johnson/Stuff

Acting Christchurch mayor Andrew Turner says the city council will decide on the proposed drinking water reforms at a special meeting.

Ashburton mayor Neil Brown said his council had not yet discussed whether to opt in to the reforms, but looked likely to do so.

The Government’s funding was allocated through a formula based on population and land area, Mahuta said.

"Investing in water infrastructure is about investing in the health of New Zealanders. Infrastructure investment is a key component in the government's five-point economic plan to recover from Covid," she said.

The fund will include $51m to support New Zealand’s new water regulator, Taumata Arowai.

It was formed to enforce drinking water regulations, while contributing to improved environmental outcomes from wastewater and stormwater networks.

Councils around New Zealand are receiving funding to improve drinking water supplies.

Stuff

Councils around New Zealand are receiving funding to improve drinking water supplies.

No funding has yeet been announced for Auckland. Ministers were still considering the package and approach for the country's biggest city as its council was further along in service arrangements, Mahuta said.

The announcement also provided $30m for non-council rural water supplies to meet costs for new drinking water regulations, she said.

WHO’S GETTING WHAT?

- Northland - $28.26m

- Waikato - $66.61m

- Bay of Plenty - $42.23m

- Gisborne - $11.04m

- Hawke's Bay - $50m

- Taranaki - $17.89m

- Manawatū-Whanganui - $40.54m

- Wellington - $59.80m

- Tasman-Nelson-Marlborough - $28.02m

- West Coast - $15.25m

- Canterbury - $100m

- Otago - $41.20m

- Southland - $22.31m

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