Thursday, June 13, 2024

Marlborough Mayor says water plan lacks logic

Marlborough District Council Mayor, John Leggett, has criticised the Government’s latest Three Waters announcement as “unfortunately predictable”, saying it failed to address alternative proposals from the 32-council strong Communities 4 Local Government group.

Under the Three Waters restructure, Marlborough District Council will own two shares in Entity C – which stretches from Blenheim through Wellington and up to Napier and Gisborne – and is made up of 21 local authorities. It will be controlled by a board which is appointed equally by the councils and mana whenua within Entity C.

Marlborough District Council will own two shares in Entity C – which stretches from Blenheim through Wellington and up to Napier and Gisborne – and is made up of 21 local authorities. It will be controlled by a board which is appointed equally by the councils and mana whenua within Entity C.

“One of the Government’s early selling points to some councils was the ‘cross subsidisation’ of costs across the residents within each entity. There is no clarity as to how this is going to be incorporated into the legislation,” says Mayor Leggett (pictured).

“This is one of many questions that Marlborough District Council has raised with the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and Minister of Local Government, and they remain unanswered.

“The Government is proposing that sub-regional committees advise the Regional Representative Group on priorities from the contributing councils. These groups then advise the new entities. It is a very bureaucratic set up and I’m concerned about how Marlborough’s water infrastructure needs will be given sufficient weight against other councils’ needs. How is an organisation the size of Entity C going to deal with the prioritisation of projects with the governance structure that is proposed?

“Also, the entity boundaries have remained as originally proposed. South Marlborough including Seddon and Ward, a short distance from Blenheim, will be part of Entity D (covering the majority of the South Island) while the remainder of Marlborough is within Entity C. It’s hard to find any logic in this.”

The Mayor said the suggestion that Entity C should manage Entity D’s assets in South Marlborough avoided splitting water management across two entities in Marlborough, so was an improvement on what had originally been proposed, but was “nonetheless still a compromise”

“How is such a convoluted design going to deliver better quality drinking water and lead to better environmental outcomes?” the Mayor asked.

“It makes no sense to me and I will continue to advocate to DIA that the northern area of Entity D should be within Entity C’s boundary, with the rest of Marlborough.

“My Council has advocated for a pause in the process to further test the four entity model and consider alternative, smaller regional models. We also want the Government to provide our residents and ratepayers with a much better understanding of the reform proposals.”

He said Council would review the draft legislation, which is expected mid-year.

“I look forward to the opportunity to voice our concerns through the select committee process. We will be encouraging the Marlborough community to do the same.”

“We will continue to work to achieve the best outcome for Marlborough residents and ratepayers.”

Latest Articles