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An independent water quality regulator is a positive move, but questions still remain over the extra regulation and costs that will be lumped on councils following the Government’s Three Waters Review, National’s Local Government spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.

“National broadly supports establishing an independent water regulator in response to the Havelock North Campylobacter outbreak.

“But there are still worrying signs regarding the regulatory regime and cost impact, particularly on small councils whose limited ratepayer base could be hit with huge debt for years to come.

“How much will it cost rural marae and papakāinga, or other small self-suppliers like rugby clubrooms and community halls, to fall in line with the new regulations?

“And will five years be enough time for them to transition? Local councils and mayors have already contacted me with their concerns about the tight timeframe. No one wants mandatory one-size-fits-all policy making.

“My main concern is that the Government’s march towards greater water regulation will end up over-burdening many smaller councils and self-suppliers in rural areas.

“There is still plenty of uncertainty about this process. Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has appeared confused throughout, initially leaning towards compulsory amalgamation of water suppliers before softening her stance.

“This Three Waters Review is starting to look like another KiwiBuild back down in the making.”

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