The Auckland Council is opposed to the Government's Three Waters reform model with Mayor Phil Goff telling his former Labour colleagues to keep their hands off $11b of water assets built up by ratepayers over decades.
The council today voted to support the objectives of the reforms, but opposed the model that strips the Auckland Council of direct control and accountability over the city's water assets.
The Government plans to take the drinking water, wastewater and stormwater assets of 67 councils and roll them into four giant companies with the scale, expertise and efficiencies to provide safe and affordable water services.
The reforms stem from Havelock North's outbreak of gastroenteritis in 2016 where four people died and 5000 became ill, the drought in Auckland and old pipes bursting in Wellington.
There has been a mixed reaction to the reform package with many councils opposing the reforms, none more loudly than the Whangarei District Council and Mayor Sheryl Mai, who said the promised benefits of reform are unlikely to materialise.
In July, the Government buttered up the controversial reforms with a financial support package of $2.8 billion to councils.
Goff, speaking at a governing body meeting to provide feedback to the Government on the reforms, said he supported the need for reform but was not prepared to relinquish control and ownership of water assets built up and paid for by ratepayers.
By the end of the decade, investment in the Super City's water assets would take the value to $20b, he said.
Goff said he favoured "sensible reform of the water systems but the model they have put up has some serious flaws".
He was hopeful the Government had picked up a strong level of opposition across councils and communities that whatever the merits of the reforms they don't extend to removing accountability and responsiveness to the community.
Goff and councillors are concerned that under the plans, the Auckland Council would contribute 92 per cent of the Auckland and Northland water company and could have less than 40 per cent of representation under the governance model.
Under the ownership model, mana whenua will have equal rights with councils in overseeing the new water companies, prompting councillor Daniel Newman to question if Maori politics in Wellington is behind the proposal and other councillors criticising racial abuse over the matter.
"Auckland Council supports a water service entity model, like the council-controlled organisation Watercare model, where real ownership continues to reside with councils," the feedback said.
Council officers cautioned against the modelling assumptions in a report by the Water Industry Commission Scotland (WICS), which has acted as a blueprint for the Government's reforms.
Modelling by the Scots found the average household water bill will be $803 by 2051 as opposed to $2076 if Auckland does not buy into the reforms.
From July this year, Watercare began hiking household water prices by 111 per cent over 10 years, taking the average water bill from $1069 to $2261.
A review of the WICS work by infrastructure consultant Farrierswier cast doubt on the long-term benefits in its report, saying "forecasts almost always turn out to be incorrect, especially over a 30-year horizon".
Council officers also said there is no information in the Government's proposals on how the new water companies will fund stormwater services. Currently stormwater is funded by rates and development contributions. Water and wastewater is funded on a user-pays system by Watercare.
Planning committee chairman Chris Darby said taking stormwater away from the council was problematic because it is critical to land use.