The Government’s plan to hold strategic conversations with local government about proposals to overhaul the regulation of water is well due, says the Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA).
The EMA’s chief executive Kim Campbell says, “It’s a timely discussion to have with local councils regarding their capability, their resources and their ability to finance new and old water infrastructure.
“It’s also a safety issue.
“Current estimates are that $2 billion in new infrastructure is required across the country, just to bring water provision up to required standards. All those councils objecting to a new way of doing things should just look at their own ability to pay for that new infrastructure to keep their ratepayers safe.
“Take the recent examples of the contamination of drinking water in Christchurch and Havelock North – the latter resulting in three deaths and financial suffering to many businesses.
“While the result of discussions among Government and local councils can’t be known, we think one outcome will be fewer councils running water authorities.
“Is it even the role of a council? They don’t run electricity, so why water?
“Maybe the strategic conversation about water is an opportunity for some councils that are under pressure with providing some Government tasks, to consider divesting themselves of those tasks,” says Mr Campbell.