Proposed drinking water costs too high for councils
For immediate release on 30 October 2006
The Government’s proposed Health (Drinking Water) Amendment Bill needs to be substantially changed to avoid placing significant costs on councils and ultimately ratepayers, Local Government New Zealand ‘s spokesperson Mayor Lawrence Yule told the Health Select Committee last week.
“We support that all drinking water should meet public health standards and is delivered in an affordable and efficient matter. In fact, many of our councils already do this and have been improving performance in response to community expectations. Meeting the requirements of this Bill is estimated to cost councils somewhere $150 and $300 million, funding which local councils will have to provide from a rating base already under pressure.
“The costs of this Bill for councils are not just in the implementation stages but also on meeting centrally-imposed audited processes around water quality and standards. We are not sure that the estimated benefits from these proposed new processes outweigh the huge financial and staffing resources required to administer them.
“Councils deliver water to over 70 percent of our population. The majority of suppliers deliver safe high quality drinking water and they all know that by continuing to improve what they do, it will have public health benefits for New Zealand.
“We have urged the Select Committee to consider the practical implications of this legislation so the benefits can be balanced with the implementation impacts on councils and ultimately their ratepayers,” said Mayor Yule.
Local Government New Zealand’s submission is available at www.lgnz.co.nz.