Building the evidence base

Below is the Water 2050 series of discussion papers, intended to promote discussion and contribute to policy development by central and local government, particularly in regards to the Government’s Three Waters Review.  These papers are across five key areas: Allocation, Water Quality, Infrastructure, Cost and funding, and Governance.


Governance – A better framework for drinking water

The first Water 2050 discussion paper explores what a new regulatory system to enable the provision of safe drinking water could look like.  It considers the enforcement of standards by a regulator independent from the body that sets policy, and that the current ‘principles-based’ approach should be replaced with an outcome or performance-based form of regulation.


Water Quality – Review of the framework for water quality

The second paper identifies key issues and opportunities for improvement of our regulatory framework for water quality. This includes  limited connection between setting drinking water and freshwater standards, limited understanding of the cost to communities to meet new standards, and opportunities for change including establishing an all-of-government position on priorities, adopting a collaborative approach to understanding and addressing costs, and strategic coordination of objectives for water quality monitoring.


Cost and Funding – Meeting the costs of water infrastructure

The cost and funding discussion paper provides a stocktake and analysis of 11 funding options and details the advantages and disadvantages of different durations of cost recovery.  It discusses the challenge for local government to determine which combination of options will work best, by balancing impact between social equality and economic efficiency, recognising that no two communities are the same.

3 Waters Project

The LGNZ 3 Waters project was a proactive and collaborative effort by local government, central government and the water sector to improve asset performance and service provision in potable, waste and stormwater across New Zealand. 

The project was established by LGNZ in 2013 to respond to an information gap that was revealed in the 2011 National Infrastructure Plan, and resulted in two papers - an issues paper and a position paper.

Three Waters Issues Paper

Published in 2014, the issues paper presents the key issues facing the sector that arguably need to be addressed if we are to achieve this aim.  The paper provides an overview of the National Information Framework Survey conducted that year, which collected detailed data on the three waters assets and services from a total of 70 councils. 

Three Waters Position Paper

This position paper identifies what strong performance across the three waters looks like and advocates for a refresh of the regulatory framework alongside a strong, sector-led approach to water.



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