Wellington City Council has decided not to join a Three Waters reform "splinter group".
But mayor Andy Foster has got his way in voicing concerns about the Government's reform agenda, via a casting vote.
The council met this morning to consider a draft submission on the Government's Water Services Entities Bill, which will move New Zealand's drinking, waste and stormwater management to four new water entities, instead of 67 councils.
Wellington has endured several high-profile water pipe failures in recent years, one of which sent thousands of litres of wastewater into the harbour.
Foster said in today's meeting that broken pipes in the city had become a "target" for media.
He recognised the need for change, but said he didn't like the Government's reforms for a multitude of reasons.
Foster doubted the efficiency gains, he found the constant references to Havelock North's gastro outbreak irrelevant to the region, and he didn't like that the reforms had become compulsory for councils.
"Overall, I think we're still struggling in this legislation to try and find a way of landing local voices."
Councillor Sean Rush introduced an amendment to the submission, including a proposal for the mayor to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with a group called Communities 4 Local Democracy.
"It's time to stand up," Rush said.
The Communities 4 Local Democracy He hapori mō te Manapori coalition is made up of mayors, chief executives and councillors from more than 30 of the country's 67 local authorities.
The group has asked the Government to pause the reforms and consider an alternative plan, which it delivered to Parliament this year.
Rush said a strong local voice with democratic accountability was of the utmost importance.
Council officials advised joining the group would not be unlawful, but given resolutions the council has previously passed, it would look a "little bit silly".
Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons disputed Foster's comments, including that the city had "A-grade drinking water".
"We haven't had fluoride in our water for some time. It's a major public policy failure and an ongoing scandal. There are serious public health risks from our failure to fluoridate our water."
Fitzsimons said local government had failed for decades to properly invest in water infrastructure.
She said the council should not be joining a "splinter group".
Ngāti Toa Rangatira representative Liz Kelly said mana whenua supported the Government's reforms.
"Their core purpose and focus is ensuring the wellbeing of our peoples and the taiao, the water, that sustains us."
In the end, only councillors Rush, Sarah Free, and Iona Pannett voted in favour of joining Communities 4 Local Democracy.
But other parts of Rush's amendment got through by way of a casting vote by Foster.
It means the council's submission on the Bill will include concerns about the scale benefits, the shareholding structure, and that there should have been a larger number of entities to facilitate local voice.