Local authorities are given a water break

A great move from the Government today will take the heat off hard-pressed local authorities struggling to bring their water supplies up to standards demanded by the Clark Cabal.

The announcement came jointly from Health Minister Tony Ryall and Local Government Minister Rodney Hide; they announced the Government has delayed requirements for communities to meet new drinking water legislation by three years.

This will be welcome in Eketahuna, where we’ve had problems trying to meet absurdly high quality standards.

Mr Ryall says “The government will also be reviewing the cost, benefits and administrative burden of the legislation. We know local communities have been wanting such a review for some time.”

Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide says, “Local government is concerned about the impact of compliance on peoples’ rates and water charges at a time of considerable financial pressure. Councils told us the cost of compliance would significantly exceed the previous government’s estimates.

“We have listened to those concerns, and this deferment will provide additional time for councils to consult with their communities on costs and proposals as part of their Long Term Council Community Plans.”

Compliance with sections of the Health (Drinking Water) Amendment Act 2007 is staggered depending on the size of the community. The first group, for communities bigger than 10,000 people, was due to have plans in place by 1 July this year, but now has until 1 July 2012. Smaller communities have up until 2016 to comply.

Wherever there is a significant risk to health such as contamination, the existing legal requirement remains for suppliers to take remedial action.

Ryall reckons three years is still a tight timeframe and water suppliers will need to continue planning for improvements.

The decision has gone down well with Lawrence Yule, President of Local Government New Zealand.

He says councils agree that safe drinking water is a priority for communities. They also all agree that councils regularly monitor their water suppliers, do essential maintenance and take any remedial action that may be required.

“However, these standards, imposed by the previous government in the Health (Drinking Water) Bill, went well beyond these requirements. The legislation imposed an additional and significant time and cost burden on councils, without a thorough cost/benefit analysis.”

Yule said the delay as particularly appropriate in this constrained economic environment when councils are under pressure to ensure money is spent wisely.

Tararua Mayor Maureen Reynolds will be relieved. A few months ago she was saying it will be impossible to come up with the dosh needed to improve her district’s drinking water – a matter of more than $13 million – without help from the Government.

Ministry mandarins had told the district council it must take urgent action to improve its D and E drinking-water grading.

Tararua couldn’t find the money for improvements from its small number of ratepayers. Woodville, Pahiatua and Eketahuna would receive some funding, it seems, but Dannevirke was considered large enough to be able to fund itself.

Local Government Minister Rodney Hide was on the case at that time, saying the rules needed to be reviewed so the Government has a clear understanding of their cost.

One Response to Local authorities are given a water break

  1. pmofnz says:

    Since the 10 year LTCCP has just been recently finalised? for Tararua, with 9% of rates rises mooted in each of the next 3 years to cover this very upgrade, I suppose I or you Alf will not see any reduction in the daylight robbery tax take by the TDC.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: