I must write in response to the opinion piece submitted by Malcolm Flett, of Flaxmere, on Three Waters and the concept that appears to underpin his comments.
That is, there is no Government cash, or Government management of Three Waters proposed.
The proposal is still for 100 per cent of the funding (for these new four mega water entities) to come from you and me, the ratepayers.
This is likely to be through volumetric charging (water meters) and would come directly from the new mega entity. Management of the water assets/ delivery is to be set through a convoluted appointment process which has no Government (or community) accountability.
So, when Malcolm says "Govt will take care of it" and "it's now Govt's problem" that's just wrong.
He goes on to state Napier has historically under-invested in its Three Water assets and Hastings not so.
This is not correct.
The cities had/have significantly different Three Water assets and challenges. Independent assessments during the amalgamation debate showed Napier assets were not under-invested in, nor were Hastings; they met the standards of the day.
What has changed in the past five-plus years since the Havelock North crisis is the standards - they have been raised for all cities in the country, with the introduction of a new water regulator (Taumata Arowai).
This is a good thing. However, the knee-jerk introduction of chlorine has been a particular problem for Napier's water supply as it is high in manganese, causing discolouration reactions.
This is not a "pipe" or "underinvestment" problem, it's a well-documented science problem and a complex one at that, one the city has been working hard to fix with significant political pressure to do so.
Both Napier and Hastings have invested considerably in addressing their differing Three Water issues in the post-Havelock North water crisis years and both plan to continue that in the coming years based on figures in their 10 year budgets.
That's democracy in action - councils hearing and responding to changing standards and community expectations.
Currently the elected members are directly responsible to the community for water decisions. Under the Government proposal there are five steps of governance between you the community and the decision makers, certainly no closeness to asset ownership and accountability as it is currently.
So what's the best option for our Three Waters?
It can't stay as it is, we all agree.
So, all five of the Hawke's Bay councils came together to give one set of feedback to the Government last month. We proposed, modelled and costed a HB Regional Three Waters governing model, that achieved the same cost savings and affordability measures, actually invested more money in the region's water assets than the mega entities propose, partnered better with local Māori, kept local decision making and kept local asset ownership.
What was the Government feedback on this was? Nothing, they steamrolled over the submission without any feedback or consideration for its outcomes (papers release last week now show the Government had made that decision before submission from councils closed), and with no changes to their original "proposed model" made participation in the mega entities mandatory.
Certainly doesn't feel like they engaged with us, your community representatives.
• Annette Brosnan is deputy mayor of Napier.