"The Havelock North Drinking Water Inquiry’s second report out today demonstrates the immediate need to establish a small number of large dedicated water service providers, funded by metered water and overseen by a competent regulator," says Stephen Selwood CEO of Infrastructure New Zealand.
"The Inquiry found a serious lack of compliance with drinking water standards across New Zealand, resulting in over 700,000 New Zealanders being exposed to unsafe drinking water.
"Failures at all levels, from the legislation to governance and weak institutional capability, have contributed to a drinking water system which is dangerous, inefficient and unacceptable.
"Total reform of the water sector is required and the Inquiry’s recommendations should be implemented in full.
"Water suppliers across New Zealand are too small, under-resourced and conflicted in their provision of water services. Water regulation has been woefully weak, allowing institutional acceptance of service failure.
"While this inquiry looked specifically at drinking water, the issues are systemic across the sector including waste and stormwater services.
"A small number of benchmarked water service providers, delivering both water supply, waste and stormwater services should be established.
"Larger entities will generate the economies of scale needed to achieve drinking water and environmental standards which are currently being ignored, often because of the cost impact to councils.
"Funding of acceptable water services should be provided by metering and charging for drinking and wastewater use. Metering typically results in a 15 percent water demand reduction over the long term, with lower water consumption reducing the need for expensive new water sources, treatment and distribution networks.
"The Ministry of Health needs to urgently implement the Inquiry’s short-term recommendations and an independent water regulator must be established as the first step towards major reform of water service governance and delivery in New Zealand.
"It is encouraging to see the Government is moving quickly in response to the Inquiry’s hard-hitting findings."It is the duty of every Government to protect the health and welfare of its people and the Inquiry’s sobering report demonstrates a severe failure of governance has been allowed to emerge in the provision of one of the most essential public services," Selwood says.
For further information and comment contact Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209