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The government’s three-water promotion for the councils is a slap in the face

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A photo of a newspaper ad about the government's three water reform program posted in the Nelson Mail on Wednesday.

Cherie Sivignon / stuff

A photo of a newspaper ad about the government’s three water reform program posted in the Nelson Mail on Wednesday.

The government’s promotion of its Three Waters Reform Program has been criticized as “deeply disappointing”, overly negative, uncultivated and a “slap in the face” for the local government.

The ads show cartoon-like versions of people and animals in and around poor quality green colored water.

A trio of cartoon people fish, swim and hold a glass of water. Everyone looks unhappy, as does a cartoon fish, frog, and duck. Readers are asked to “imagine Aotearoa without good water”. A slogan says: “Better water is better for everyone”.

A spokesman for the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) Three Waters Reform Program said the ads “Better Water Is Better For All” as part of a phased government awareness and information campaign on TV, Online, Social Media, Out “Were switched from home and pressure”.

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Richard Kirby, chief of engineering services for the Tasman District Council, told a meeting of the city council’s operations committee that the message the ads conveyed is that “we are in really bad shape with our three bodies of water,” which applies to drinking water, rainwater and wastewater.

Richard Kirby, engineering services manager for the Tasman District Council, says he understands that there is unrest across the country over the ads.

Martin De Ruyter / stuff

Richard Kirby, engineering services manager for the Tasman District Council, says he understands that there is unrest across the country over the ads.

The ad was posted the day before a city council report was received, showing that 99.4 percent of dry-weather water samples taken from popular monitored swimming spots in the district last summer met guidelines.

“I just find it ironic that we are reporting on the state of our water in the district the day after this ad went live, and it bears no resemblance to the pictures in this ad,” said Kirby. “I see … there is unrest all over the country. It’s like a slap in the face for local government. “

Councilor Kit Maling described the complaint as “very unfair” as some councils had spent a “huge amount of money” on water.

Maling pointed out that the complaint came after Crown agency Waka Kotahi informed the council that it was likely to be allocating less than expected funding to the proposed local road maintenance program.

“They criticize us in one and say we have to do better and then they take it away on the other,” Maling said. “So it’s just a charge against the central government.”

Councilor David Ogilvie said he was surprised by the ad, which was “a very strong generalization to all of New Zealand”.

Popular swimming spots in the Tasman District, such as Paines Ford in Golden Bay pictured above, have high water quality.

Ngareta Campion / Delivered

Popular swimming spots in the Tasman District, such as Paines Ford in Golden Bay pictured above, have high water quality.

Some councils might have a problem, but “to make a very general statement is very unfair to councils like us who are keeping up with the pace”.

“It’s just disappointing in terms of relationships … and annoying at a time when we should move forward together that is focused on the issues,” said Ogilvie.

Councilor Celia Butler said she believed this could be the beginning of “undermining local government when all these national initiatives get under way”.

“I think we should expect and respond to more of this,” said Butler.

Tasman District Councilor David Ogilvie says the ad is disappointing and annoying at a time when central and local government

Martin De Ruyter / stuff

Tasman District Councilor David Ogilvie says the ad is disappointing and annoying at a time when central and local government “should move forward together and focus on the issues”.

A senior New Zealand local government spokesman said the organization was aware of the advertising campaign and “deeply disappointed in the overly negative and uncomplicated way in which it is trying to tackle the serious issue of water reform”.

“We raised these concerns before the campaign started, and we recently did so to the Home Office and the government,” the spokesman said.

“We don’t want these ads to distract from work on reforming our three water system. The total lack of a robust regulatory system for at least 30 years means we have a big job ahead of us, and the debate about it is not supported by talk of ‘dirty ducks’ and ‘grumpy trout’. “

MARTIN DE RUYTER / STUFF

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks about local government reform during a visit to Nelson. The video was first released on June 3, 2021.

The spokesman for the Three Waters Reform Program at DIA said the campaign should in no way be interpreted as a reflection on those who are working to provide New Zealanders with clean drinking water, sewage and rainwater services, “in an environment where funding and others Resources are available ”. often restricted “.

“Your knowledge, skills and experience will be needed more than ever in the coming years,” said the spokesman. “The government is determined to continue working with the local government sector on the reform program.”

The department acknowledged that the quality of water services varies across the country.

“But detailed research shows that without changing the way services are provided, communities will either face priceless bills or water quality, infrastructure and services will decline over the next few decades.”

An advisory group made up of local government representatives was involved in creating the campaign. This campaign aimed to raise awareness of the need for a Three Waters Reform and “help New Zealanders to get involved in the process of helping make the best decisions about water services for New Zealand and their communities,” the spokesman said.

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