Anyone who's heard me speaking on the Three Waters Reform in Napier City Council meetings will know that I am in favour of the government's reform programme.
I'm aware that feelings are running high on this issue and that I'm currently alone on our council in supporting the government's reform. I respect my colleagues' position but I hold a different opinion.
I know from conversations in the community that there are others out there who also support the reforms; and as someone with a track record of speaking out on what I believe in, I stand in agreement.
There's no argument that three waters infrastructure across the country have been underfunded and pose health risks for people.
Every year tens of thousands of kiwis get sick from poor quality drinking water. Each week we hear of more instances of failure of our water networks, whether it be having sewage running in the streets of Wellington; the leak in our own wastewater pipes that discharge into Hawke Bay; the lead content in Waikouiti's water approaching dangerous levels; and Westport's situation, where they are facing running out of water.
All councils agree that the status quo is not an option. Three Waters reform to remedy this is both necessary and overdue.
They all want our communities, towns and country areas to have safe water services without huge rates increases.
New rules about drinking water and the improved delivery of waste and stormwater under the water services regulator, Taumata Arowai, will address these issues; but paying for the necessary infrastructure upgrades is a potential financial time bomb for ratepayers.
Across the country, the work that needs to be done is estimated to cost between $120 and $185 billion.
The government's reform programme is designed to enable this to happen, for us all to benefit from economies of scale that will enable borrowing to improve our infrastructure in order to meet the new regulations.
Scale is important as further professionalising the industry will give it the scale and the opportunity to deliver a very large capital programme as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Whether or not Three Waters will solve all the problems, the idea of the government "stealing" already publicly-owned assets is false. They will remain in public ownership with legislative protection against privatisation.
Here in Hawke's Bay, our five councils have put forward our own local proposal to meet the new standards, covering the whole region.
As good as it is, this model cannot operate in the same economy of scale that the government's reform proposal does; and nor does it solve the problem for any other part of New Zealand, which the reform programme does.
With our Council voting this week on our biggest rates increase in 20 years, at 9.8 per cent, I worry how far the $404 million already in our Long Term Plan for water will take us through the reforms and what future rates rises we may face without government support.
It is ironic that the Taxpayers Union, who are always critical of our rates increases, are opposed to councils combining our assets to deliver this reform nationwide.
However, what they are notably opposed to is that the proposed reforms would establish four new public entities, collectively owned by councils, and co-steered with iwi.
Far from being something to fear, Māori involvement in Three Waters governance is an opportunity to share knowledge, culture and expertise for the benefit of everyone.
Our regional Three Waters proposal has a co-governance element built in as well, but to my knowledge none of our local Māori entities have signed up to endorse the proposal.
Basically we all want water services to work without being cripplingly expensive. People don't want to be poisoned by their drinking water, or have brown water coming from their taps, or have waste water flowing into the Estuary.
We want these services to stay in public ownership, making the necessary improvements with the lowest rates rises. The question is, can local government do this more cheaply and effectively than central government?
As former Ngati Kahungunu Iwi chief Ngahiwi Tomoana put it: "the issues are simple.
"Ensuring clean, equitable, affordable water services for everyone, while protecting human health and the environment, should be bottom lines for all communities."
The government's reform programme, in my mind, gives us the best opportunity to do just that.
Maxine Boag is a Napier City Councillor