Lloyd Burr: What do we do about Three Waters?


Three Waters. 

The farming protest group Groundswell wants councils to hold local referenda on whether its residents support or oppose Three Waters. 

Three Waters is the name the government has given to its reforms of our freshwater, wastewater and stormwater systems. 

Currently, these systems are the responsibilities of local councils. 

67 local councils. 

The changes will see the responsibility of all fresh, storm, and wastewater given to four new bodies. 

It's been in the pipeline for a while - even since thousands of people were poisoned in Havelock North in 2016 when campylobacter entered the freshwater network. 

Two people died. 

Poor upkeep, delayed maintenance, and underinvestment in infrastructure was one of the causes. 

So the Government came up with Three Waters, and the four new governing bodies will take the current assets off councils and look after them instead. 

They'll also be in charge of investing in new infrastructure and long-overdue maintenance. 

They'll be co-governed with Mana Whenua, and councils will get shareholdings too, based on population numbers.  

The groups vehemently against Three Waters are calling it an asset grab by Māori. 

It's also being called undemocratic as the people on the boards of the four entities won't be elected. 

So should we have a referendum on it? Or individual referenda by local councils? 

I'm not convinced. 

1. Only those who care will vote. 

2. The campaigns will get ugly, and racist, and divisive. 

3. The campaigns will be full of misinformation. 

4. They wouldn't be binding so there'd be no point - just like the state asset sales referendum. 

What are your thoughts?