A local government leaders’ water declaration has been launched to further reiterate the sector’s commitment to lifting water quality and call on the new Government for greater action.
Water is a key issue for New Zealanders. Lifting the quality of freshwater resources and improving our drinking, waste and stormwater will require a huge effort and the Water Declaration is local government’s commitment to playing its part in achieving these goals.
The Local Government Leaders’ Water Declaration acknowledges the increasing importance of water to New Zealanders. It follows a climate change declaration launched in July 2017 and recognises the interlinked nature of what are two major issues for New Zealand.
Local Government New Zealand President Dave Cull says councils manage freshwater quality and quantity, the delivery of drinking water and the provision of waste and storm water services.
“There is no doubt water is a challenging and complex area to address,” Mr Cull says.
“Local government is already working with its communities to lift the outcomes for all of our waters and is seeing good success in some areas. But we face a number of challenges in achieving this, particularly around funding to deliver investment in the improvement our communities want to see.”
Lifting the quality of freshwater resources and improving our drinking, waste and stormwater provision will require a collaborative effort and will come at a significant cost. Additional funding tools will be needed to ensure this work can be carried out and councils are very likely to need financial support from the Government in some areas to make real gains.
The Declaration builds on the Water 2050 project started this year by local government to scope the costs of maintaining and improving water quality and its continued supply. Water 2050 will underpin the need to think about water in a holistic way, raising the cost implications of investment in drinking, waste and storm water assets and services to meet increased standards for water quality, and outlining the need for a national conversation on costs and new funding tools.
“Water, along with climate change, is a top priority for local government. As a nation we need to take significant steps towards making improvement, and this declaration is a commitment to action from local government,” Mr Cull says.
The Declaration outlines a number of local government commitments. These include:
- improving the water in our regions with, and for, our people and future generations;
- ensuring that those people who have the privilege of using our water do so responsibly; and
- working with our communities so that the costs and priorities for investment in infrastructure to provide a secure supply of water and maintain and improve water quality are clearly understood.
The Declaration also outlines key steps for the new Government, including:
- recognising the interlinked nature of all water, whether natural rivers, lakes, streams or groundwater and drinking water, stormwater or wastewater, and reflecting this in coherent, integrated water policy;
- acknowledging the impact climate change will have on our water resources and developing policy options to address these; and
- working with local government on a plan to meet these costs and develop new tools for funding and financing infrastructure.