skip to main content

I want to...

Current filter:

Water Services Reforms

The Government is changing the way the country’s ‘three waters’ services are delivered. This reform programme has been several years in the making, following high profile water quality issues and asset failures across Aotearoa, and in light of growing concern about the ongoing affordability of water services for households.

The Government has proposed that ten regional water entities will take over the water services currently delivered by local councils. Currently, 67 councils across the country are responsible for the day-to-day management and operation of our drinking water networks, wastewater systems and all the infrastructure involved in managing stormwater. Shifting the responsibility for these assets to ten regional entities will be the biggest change to the local government sector in over 30 years.

April 2023 reset

In April 2023, the Government announced some notable changes to the reform framework and timeline. The four water services entities originally proposed in 2021 increased to ten entities to better reflect existing regional collaboration and allow for more local voice in decision making.

The establishment timeline also changed from a national go-live on 1 July 2024, to a staggered establishment approach where the entities go-live between 1 July 2024 and 1 July 2026.

Previously known as the ‘Three Waters Reform’, this reset saw the programme rebranded as the ‘Water Services Reforms’.

With this reset, Napier City Council’s water services will now transfer to Entity F (Tairāwhiti – Gisborne Hawke’s Bay) alongside Gisborne District Council, Wairoa District Council, Hastings District Council and Central Hawke’s Bay District Council. The establishment date is yet to be determined. In the meantime, Napier City Council is continuing to fulfil our obligations and work alongside the National Transition Unit (operating out of the Department of Internal Affairs) to prepare for the transition.

Water Service Entities Map branded with councils and tables1024 1


The case for change

Local councils across the country are facing significant challenges when it comes to planning for and managing drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services into the future.

Generally, the assets that make up our urban water networks are aging and will cost a significant amount to replace. In 2021, The Water Industry Commission for Scotland was tasked to look into investment requirements and estimated that New Zealand needs to invest $120 billion to $185 billion in our water services infrastructure over the next 30 years. This investment is crucial to mitigating issues like boil water notices, wastewater overflows (when sewage spills onto streets, properties and into waterways) and drinking water loss (when valuable freshwater leaks out of pipes as it is pumped through the network).

The magnitude of investment that will be required over the next 30 years is potentially beyond councils’ existing ability to fund, given councils have limits on how much they can borrow. The ten entities would be able to borrow more money, and harness economies of scale.

There are other opportunities presented by reform, like the chance to build an expert water workforce and achieve more national consistency in service delivery and technical standards. The changes would treat water services more like a utility business (telecommunications or electricity) and leaves council more scope to focus on community needs.

More information about the rationale for change can be found here.

What does it mean for Napier?

Even though Napier City Council is a member of Communities4LocalDemocracy, we agree that something needs to change.

The Entity F model wouldn’t see many day-to-day changes for households. You would likely pay for water services separately instead of the bill being included in your council rates, and the management of customer service and callouts would sit with the new entity. We’ll make sure we communicate any changes closer to the time so you know who to contact.

The reforms have been centred on the premise that a change in delivery model will ultimately save households money in the long term. This is compared to projected costs if nothing changes, not compared to your current rates bill. More information about projected savings can be found here.

If you collect rainwater or have a private septic tank, these are not impacted by the reforms.

What does it mean for iwi and mana whenua?

Te Tiriti o Waitangi is a central pillar of the water services reform programme. Iwi and hapū will have a greater role in the new water delivery model, including pathways for enhanced participation by whānau, hapū and iwi as they relate to delivery of water services to their communities and as it interacts with their Treaty rights and interests.

The reforms are also built on a founding principle of Te Mana o Te Wai. This is a concept from Te Ao Māori that puts the health and wellbeing of our rivers, lakes, estuaries and aquifers at the centre of the way we manage freshwater. If we protect and enhance the mauri and mana of the water around us, then we can protect the health and wellbeing of our environment and our people. You can find out more about Te Mana o Te Wai here.

Key legislation

There are several important Acts and Bills that set up the new entity framework. A summary of each is as follows:

The Water Services Entities Act 2022 established the four original water services entities and set out key details like how they would be owned and who was responsible and accountable for their performance. This Act will be amended by the Water Services Entities Amendment Bill (more detail below) to reflect the shift to ten entities.

The Water Services Legislation Bill would establish the detailed powers, functions and duties of the new entities which are necessary for them to deliver water services to communities. It also contains the mechanisms for transfer of assets and liabilities from councils to the new entities and amends local government legislation and other legislation relating to water services.  

The Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill would establish an economic regulation and consumer protection regime, overseen by the Commerce Commission. Economic regulation safeguards will focus on protecting consumers from problems that can occur when businesses have a lot of market power. Consumer protection safeguards will give consumers a strong voice on how water services are delivered and make the ten entities accountable for delivering on community expectations, including meeting minimum service levels.

The Water Services Entities Amendment Bill gives effect to the reset announced by the Minister of Local Government and Prime Minister in April of 2023. The Bill amends the Water Services Entities Act 2022 to establish 10 water services entities, and introduce the staggered go-live dates. 

How does the ‘transition’ work?

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has established a National Transition Unit (NTU) to focus on the practical implementation of the reforms. The NTU is working with local councils, iwi, industry experts and other stakeholders to transition to the new model.

We’re in a good position to work closely with the National Transition Unit to make sure service delivery is uninterrupted for Napier households, and to advocate for good outcomes for our community going forward.


Napier City Council - Copyright © 2023 Napier City Council

Disclaimers and Copyright
While every endeavour has been taken by the Napier City Council to ensure that the information on this website is accurate and up to date, Napier City Council shall not be liable for any loss suffered through the use, directly or indirectly, of information on this website. Information contained has been assembled in good faith. Some of the information available in this site is from the New Zealand Public domain and supplied by relevant government agencies. Napier City Council cannot accept any liability for its accuracy or content. Portions of the information and material on this site, including data, pages, documents, online graphics and images are protected by copyright, unless specifically notified to the contrary. Externally sourced information or material is copyright to the respective provider.

© Napier City Council - / +64 6 835 7579 /