At the end of October, the Government confirmed it will create four publicly-owned water entities to manage New Zealand’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater networks (known as the “Three waters”).

This means that the water services currently looked after by 67 local councils will merge into these four entities by July 2024.

Councils throughout New Zealand raised a variety of concerns about these reforms, including Nelson. To address some of these issues, the Government has established three working groups that will look at refining parts of the reform that have caused concern. The focus areas of these working groups are: 

  • Representation, governance and accountability
  • Planning Technical Advisory
  • Rural Supplies Technical Advisory

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese has been appointed to be on the governance/accountability working group.

A key area that was raised by Nelsonians and Council was the lack of public engagement on the reforms. The Government is due to introduce the Water Services Entities Bill in December and we are waiting to see the Bill and the detail of the timeline for consultation. 

The next steps in the process are expected to be as follows:

Early December: Water Services Entities Bill introduced to Parliament.

Mid December: First reading of the Bill and referral to Select Committee: call for public submissions.

Early 2022: Public consultation on Water Services Entities Bill through Select Committee process; National Transition Unit engagement with local authorities begins.

June 2022: Report back on Water Services Entities Bill.

July 2022: $500 million in ‘better-off’ funding available for councils.

July 2024: Four new entities take responsibility for delivering water services; up to $2 billion additional funding available for councils.

Further information: