Government announces allocation of three waters funds for councils
The Government has set out the regional allocations of the $761 million Three Waters stimulus and reform funding for councils announced by Prime Minister Hon Jacinda Ardern this month.
"I want to thank Councils around the country for engaging with the Central Local Government Steering Group who have been explaining the intent of the stimulus package and the water reform approach.
“Councils are keen to get on with investing in critical water infrastructure and services and stimulate the local economy. Today we are announcing the funding formula to support councils and regions in the distribution of Three Waters funding grants ,’’ said Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.
“I’m pleased to say that, after careful consideration, Ministers have come up with a model that we believe will best serve the dual purpose of the fund.
“Investing in water infrastructure is about investing in the health of New Zealanders. Infrastructure investment is a key component in the Government’s 5 point economic plan to recover from Covid. Four years ago more than 5000 people got sick and up to four died in the Havelock North campylobacter outbreak and we don’t want to see that happen again.”
Ministers are still considering the package and approach for Auckland as they are further along in their service delivery arrangements. The challenge will be to how best advance these arrangements to leverage the respective balance sheet of Auckland Council and Watercare. This approach would still be consistent with the Governments overall direction for reform.
"I'm pleased to reiterate that of the $761m, an allocation of $51 million will go to support Taumata Arowai, the new water regulator and we acknowledged the leadership of the Hawkes Bay who have taken a regional approach to their waters challenge and have been allocated $50 million of stimulus funding.
"Today’s announcement also provides $30 million to help non-council rural water supplies to meet costs in the face of the new regulatory regime for drinking water."
Councils that agree to participate in the Three Waters Services Reform programme will be eligible to access a portion of the investment package which is structured into two components:
A direct allocation to each council, comprising 50 per cent of its notional allocation; and
A regional allocation, comprising the sum of the remaining 50 per cent of the notional allocations for each council in the relevant region.
The total regional allocations are set out in the table appended below.
“The regional allocation component is to encourage Councils to collaborate with each other. I have taken on board the recommendation of the steering group who have suggested greater clarity in the event that those conversations are premature but want to start the stimulus investment and reform approach,’’ says Nanaia Mahuta.
While councils must sign up to a Memorandum of Understanding by 31 August to access their allocation, each regional group of councils will have until 30 September 2020 to agree on how best to apportion the regional funds to the individual territorial authorities that make up the region.
“I look forward to seeing the sector take advantage of this support for the immediate and longer-term benefit of their communities,’’ Nanaia Mahuta says.