Water is a precious resource and the people of Hawke's Bay know that better than most New Zealanders.
When we turn on the kitchen tap, we expect the water we drink to be safe. When heavy rain comes, we assume the drains will be able to cope and our streets won't flood. But none of that happens by itself. It all relies on the services our local councils provide and the government rules and regulations that make sure those services are up to standard.
New Zealand faces big challenges in ensuring that drinking, waste and stormwater services (three waters) are safe, sustainable and affordable. There will be new regulations for three waters across the country, which in turn will require local councils to make changes to the way water services are delivered and managed.
Here in Hawke's Bay we've experienced first-hand what it means when the security and resilience of our drinking, waste and stormwater systems fail. Change is needed, which requires decisions about how best to make sure everyone benefits, and how we make it affordable.
With these goals in mind, the five councils of Hawke's Bay have got together to see whether there are benefits to developing a region-wide solution to the way we manage drinking, waste and storm water services across our region. On Monday, Government announced its support and funding to help us do this important work.
The Three Waters Review is looking at options for new service delivery arrangements for our three waters services in Hawke's Bay, the scale of investment needed to deliver safe, reliable, resilient and affordable drinking, waste and stormwater, and the skills and expertise we will need to do that. This review is not about drinking water quality, chlorination, or removing chlorine from drinking water. Any future decisions about drinking water quality are for individual councils to make.
The Three Waters Review aligns with the all five councils' shared strategic priority for 2019 to 2022 – water safety, security and planning - agreed by the Hawke's Bay Leaders Forum last November, that allows us to fully evaluate the challenges in front of us and work together to determine the best solution for the entire region.
The aim is to come up with a regional solution so our three waters services are safe, reliable and resilient, affordable and effective, and support our urban and rural communities through a service delivery model that has the value of water at its heart.
Any decisions made by councils need to be backed up by detailed information and robust analysis. It's important that we complete all of the detailed work required so the councils can fully evaluate all of the options.
No change to three waters service delivery arrangements can happen without the understanding and support of the people of Hawke's Bay and that is why we are committed to partnering closely with Māori and involving the wider community as we work through this important piece of work.
Should the review recommend changes and the councils want to take the next step in considering change, then councils will run a comprehensive community engagement and consultation process, which is likely to happen in2021. Mana whenua and the people of Hawke's Bay across the region's rural and urban communities will be able to have their say on all of the options considered, not just the councils' preferred option.
There is no foregone conclusion and no preferred option yet; there is considerable analysis and consultation to come. The whole process will not be completed until the end of next year, and only after all the feedback from mana whenua and the region-wide community is taken into account will councils collectively decide on whether to proceed with a new regional service delivery model.
It is important we get this right for Hawke's Bay. As councils we all share responsibility for ensuring our communities enjoy safe and reliable, resilient and efficient drinking, waste and storm water services, so it makes sense that we work together with you, our community, to ensure the most sustainable service delivery arrangements for the Hawke's Bay region.
Jointly written by:
James Palmer, Chief Executive, Hawke's Bay Regional Council
Steven May, Chief Executive, Wairoa District Council
Wayne Jack, Chief Executive, Napier City Council
Nigel Bickle, Chief Executive, Hastings District Council
Monique Davidson, Chief Executive, Central Hawke's Bay District Council