- Last piece of water reforms passed by Parliament
- New public water entities must charge fairly
- Public watchdogs set up to protect consumers’ interests
Parliament has tonight passed the final leg of reforms to make sure New Zealanders have safe, reliable and affordable drinking water.
“This bill makes sure that access to clean water won’t cost people an arm and a leg,” Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Dr Duncan Webb said.
“In 2016, 5500 people got sick and four people died when Havelock North’s unchlorinated water supply was contaminated with Campylobacter.
“This is totally unacceptable. Access to safe drinking water is a basic health issue and human right, and this Government has made sure we’ve got a system that will deliver that.
“We’ve already passed legislation setting up 10 public entities to manage the water services currently supplied by 67 local councils.
“This morning, we passed another bill, the Water Services Legislation Bill, which sets out the functions and powers those entities will operate under. And tonight we passed a law that puts in place the protections consumers need when dealing with large water suppliers,” Duncan Webb said.
The Water Services Economic Efficiency and Consumer Protection Bill requires water suppliers to provide water at a cost and level of service consumers expect.
“It also requires them to publicly disclose their performance, and sets standards for things like being transparent about how water services are charged for, clear communication about water network problems, and the way in which consumers should be treated when they have a query or complaint,” Duncan Webb said.
A Water Services Commissioner will be appointed within the Commerce Commission to oversee the system. The scope of the Consumer Advocacy Council will also be broadened so that it can advocate on behalf of water services consumers, and an independent dispute resolution service will be established to resolve disputes between consumers and water suppliers.”