Three Waters


What are the benefits of change?

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build a uniquely New Zealand, world-class water system. 

Affordability is a key driver for these reforms. New Zealand’s three water systems are under pressure, and it’s estimated that between $120 billion and $185 billion is required to maintain and improve our water infrastructure over the next 30 years.

Councils have to deliver and fund an increasing number of services which places a demand on council funding. The four new Water Services Entities will each be much bigger than any individual council and will be solely focused on water. This will enable long-term strategic investment in water services that are not dependent on other demands on council funding.

This means they can raise much greater levels of debt to fund significant water infrastructure investment over a long timeframe. The repayment of that debt can then be funded by water charges that are spread over a longer-term horizon, rather than front-loaded onto today’s ratepayers as is the case under the status quo.

These changes also put the focus on water as a living, breathing taonga in its own right that needs to be protected and enhanced. This enables a more interconnected view of water than is possible currently with 67 different councils managing their own water services.

There are also benefits for water sector professionals, as changes will enable jobs to be secured and created throughout the country and build and sustain a highly skilled workforce. The Three Waters workforce will be needed everywhere to improve, upgrade and maintain the pipes and plants across the entire country.

These reforms are about fixing our water infrastructure needs for today, and future-proofing our water systems for future generations. This will ensure that all New Zealanders can enjoy safe, affordable, reliable water systems for years to come.


Explore the household affordability map below to understand how much households in your area currently pay for water, versus the estimated costs with and without reform.

The data included in this map was commissioned by the Department of Internal Affairs from specialist economic and commercial advisors, incorporating the current state of our water infrastructure and council's long-term plans. It is intended to be an estimate only and actual costs may change as details of the reform are finalised.