The decision by the Government to mandate the Three Waters reform proposal so that all councils have no option but to be part of the reform will not go down well with many councils and their communities.
I don't expect Horowhenua to be any different.
The breadth of opinion as to whether these reforms should happen or not has been as wide and long as our widest lakes and longest rivers.
On the face of it, having scale and economy in the Three Waters space should provide reassurance to all ratepayers that the quality and supply of that infrastructure will be of the highest level.
There are challenges for many councils in their ability to invest and deliver the infrastructure required to ensure that level of service is maintained into the future for our communities.
This applies even more so to growth districts like ourselves. We are currently in a good space here, because we have invested well in Three Waters infrastructure over the years. We have led the way in ensuring our wastewater discharges are to land and not to water.
The reality, though, is that with our projected population growth there will be growing pains — we will need to manage that growth and invest appropriately.
Are we in a position to take on more debt, and what impact will it have on our rates? Will you as a ratepayer be better off in the long term if the proposal did work?
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These and many other questions about the reforms still need to be answered.
Most councils agree that there is a need for change in general, but many of us do not believe the Government has convincingly made the case for its proposed solution.
Hopefully, the working party that was also announced, will look closely at the concerns that have been raised around governance, representation, and accountability and that the Government will listen to those concerns.
With so many in the local government sector having concerns with what is being proposed, I hope that time will be taken to ensure communities are well informed, and that communities endorse the reforms before they are implemented, rather than being forced upon us.