Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Three Waters protest flows into Nelson council

Anti Three Waters protesters in Nelson have taken their message directly to Nelson City Council this morning, as councillors prepare to meet today over the proposed water reforms.

Around 25 people entered the Council building foyer around 9am following a protest outside Civic House.

Nelson City Council chief executive, Pat Dougherty, met with the protesters inside the Council foyer, advising them that large gatherings inside were not permitted under current COVID-19 public health rules.

“We are not an entertainment venue – we are a council building,” he told the protestors.

Police were called and the protestors were removed from the building. No arrests were made.

Councillors are meeting this morning to consider a Government report on the proposed reforms.

The report analyses the Government proposal, made in July 2021, including reductions in projected costs, and the impact of transferring Nelson’s Three Waters infrastructure, and related debt, into one of four new water entities.

At this stage, Council is not being asked to make a decision about whether Nelson should opt-in or out of the reform, Council said in a statement.

Attached to the report is a review of the modelling provided by Government regarding water charges in Nelson from independent advisors Morrison Low.

The review found that Nelson ratepayers are likely to have lower household charges under the proposed Three Waters model than through continued Council service delivery.

Mayor Rachel Reese says Council’s independent review of central government’s modelling shows a significant saving for Nelsonians.

“If we continue to stand alone, by 2051 our cost per household for water services is projected to be $2330 per year. Under the proposal, the cost per household is projected to be $1260. While other Councils are projected to receive greater savings this is still an economically beneficial position for Nelson water users,” she said.
 
“This is a difference of more than $1000 per household, which means we really do have to give careful consideration to the proposal.”

Nelsonians had the opportunity to speak with Mayor Reese, Chief Executive Pat Dougherty, and Local Government New Zealand Deputy Chief Executive – Advocacy Jason Krupp about the Three Waters reforms in two zoom webinars held last week. More than 150 people joined live to take part in the sessions.

Chief Executive Dougherty says New Zealand is changing, and standards for wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water are rising.

“The modelling Government has used to set out the terms of this reform is not based on business as usual. As our standards for water, wastewater and stormwater rise and the effects of climate change put more pressure on our water systems, the cost to maintain and improve infrastructure is going to increase considerably.
“On this basis, the report considers that the case for national change has been made.”

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