When it comes to consultation on the central government's proposed Three Waters reforms, Taranaki's three district councils have three different timeframes in mind.
While South Taranaki District Council has a survey out, asking members of the community to share their views on the proposed reforms, New Plymouth and Stratford district councils are both waiting for more information before they consult with their communities.
The Government is proposing significant changes to the delivery of three waters (stormwater, wastewater and drinking water) including the creation of four publicly owned entities covering the whole country to deliver these services. The proposal puts Taranaki's three district councils into what is being called "entity B", which would be made up of 22 councils across the Taranaki, Ruapehu, Whanganui, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Rangitīkei districts.
South Taranaki District Mayor Phil Nixon says while this is a government-led proposal, and council doesn't have all the information yet, it is important to include the community's feedback at this stage of the process. To capture that feedback, an online survey was opened by STDC last week. Respondents are asked a range of questions including how informed they feel about the reforms, and if they feel it is important local government delivers the services around the three waters.
Nixon says council needs to know what the community thinks.
"While the Government has said formal consultation will come later, we think it's important to get our community's initial thoughts on the proposal at this stage, as that will help us assess local impacts and concerns."
Stratford District Mayor Neil Volzke says he is awaiting clarification as to who should undertake any planned consultation - local council or central government.
"As these reforms are driven by central government and not council, our view is that the conversation with the community should first and foremost be fronted by the Government."
He says the community must be heard on the subject.
"We strongly believe our community should have a say about participation in the Three Water reforms and we are committed to advocate for this right. At this stage, however, we are awaiting government clarification on whether there will be consultation and who will be undertaking it – council or government itself. When we know the answer to this we will make sure that we enable the community to participate in an informed way."
In the meantime, the council is making sure the community is aware of the proposed reforms and given enough information around them.
"Over the next month we will be running an information campaign to make sure the community is aware of these reforms. This will include key facts as well as links to the relevant government information, so that when the time is right, our community has everything they need to understand what is proposed."
New Plymouth District Council is also not planning to consult with the community yet, but consultation will take place later in the year, says council CEO Craig Stevenson.
"There will be an opportunity for community consultation later this year. It's important to understand that the Three Waters reforms are a central government proposal and that individual councils are not the decision-makers on the reforms. We have been given until the end of September to consider the impact of the reforms, seek clarification from Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and provide feedback to central government."
He says the timeframe doesn't allow for consultation.
"We simply do not have a sufficiently robust basis, or the required time, to conduct a legally compliant consultation process. There are still far too many variables and unknowns."
He says a "collective view" has not been reached yet, but elected members will consider a comprehensive report in an open meeting scheduled for September 21.
Knowing the issue is something the community will be interested in, recordings of the briefings given to elected members on the subject are available on the New Plymouth District Council website, he says.
Disclaimer: Editor Ilona Hanne is married to the CEO of Stratford District Council