Statement from Mayor regarding water reforms

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Published: 09 Jul 2020

Statement from Timaru District Mayor, Nigel Bowen:

“We would normally welcome central government support for what is the country’s most important infrastructure asset, but it’s extremely disappointing that this seems to come with the erosion of any local influence or accountability.

“While they asked for genuine shovel-ready projects to provide stimulus to our local economy, it doesn’t seem clear now whether to gain access to any of this funding we would be signing control over to another undetermined and likely unelected body.

“Through the recent Alpine Energy consultation the public of South Canterbury clearly stated they wanted control of key infrastructure to stay in local hands.

“To respect this view, while I am serving as Mayor of the Timaru District I certainly won't be supporting moving control to a Canterbury-wide or larger organisation.

“Without local control of our water assets, smaller areas carry the risk of becoming infrastructure backwaters with the focus and resource going to meet the demands of the main centres.

“For a district like ours, which has invested heavily in high quality water and wastewater infrastructure over decades, this is particularly concerning. A lack of a local focus and accountability could see deterioration over time of our strong asset base and a stifling of our community’s ability to grow and thrive.

“It’s disappointing that the current government's agenda clearly supports centralisation of water, health and education, and our communities need to stand up and say we don't support this.”

Last updated: 24 Feb 2021