A Word from Tim Cadogan, Central Otago District Mayor

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Find the truth on water before deciding

Last week’s News contained a letter about the Three Waters.

It is regrettable an opportunity to respond wasn’t given before publication as the letter contained large amounts of misinformation.

I don’t blame the author of the letter for that, as there is a hell of a lot of misinformation out there.

I am not arguing for or against the proposed reforms and have not made my mind up on which way I will vote if and when the opportunity comes to do so.

But what I am strongly in favour of is a discussion based on facts, not misinformation.

Three major factors have led the Government to pushing these proposals.

Firstly, three or four people dying from drinking the water in Havelock North in 2016 has led to the drinking water standards not changing, but being enforced, something the Ministry of Health has never done.

Secondly, we have aged infrastructure throughout the country and a lot of the blame for that falls at the feet of councils who have not kept up with the investment needed.

Wellington Water recorded more than 40 pipe bursts a week in its latest annual report.

We are in better shape than many places in the country thanks to the diligence of previous Central Otago councils.

And thirdly, many wastewater systems currently operating perfectly well in New Zealand are going to require massive and expensive overhauls as community abhorrence of discharging even highly treated sewage to other water bodies becomes overwhelming.

So, a trifecta of weak central government oversight, a lack of local government investment and changing environmental expectations have led us to a place where Three Waters costs are going to rise significantly.

The Government has put a proposal for councils to consider that is its means of solving the problem of what the best way is to pay for the changes that are coming in the Three Waters space; changes that are coming whether these reforms go ahead or not.

There are many false claims being made about the role of iwi under the Government’s plan.

The reality is that, under the current Government proposal, iwi will have a louder voice than it has been to date but will not have ownership, or anything like that, of community infrastructure.

Can I ask that people watch the video clips on our website that your council has put together to share information?

The more we all understand the truth and complexity of the issues we face together, the better.