Auckland mayor Phil Goff refuses to pay Waikato-Tainui to draw water from their ancestral waterway.
“We did have a silly suggestion yesterday that maybe we’d pay $20 million a day for the water,” Phill Goff says.
“That’s $140 million a week.
He says no one pays for water from a catchment and so Auckland Council shouldn’t either. People pay to get water processed and sent to their home, rather than for the water itself.
“Nobody in this country pays for water out of a river,” Goff says.
“When you pay for it, because you’re attached to a municipal supply, you’re paying for the infrastructure that delivers it.”
The former Labour Party leader says ownership of water has yet to be determined. The issue of water ownership is something Goff wishes to avoid.
“If we go down that track, then who is the owner of the water?” he says.
“Is it the people in the south around Taupo? The Tūwharetoa? Or is it the people along the river? Or is it the Waikato-Tainui people at the point where we’re taking the water from the river?”
Goff has a way around the problem. He says a trust fund can be created to help rejuvenate the health of the Waikato.
In addition, he says that there is a way to meet Auckland's needs without putting additional pressure on the river.
"What we're looking at doing, and Waikato-Tainui. I think, is now supportive of this, is using an unallocated 25 million litres a day that Hamilton City Council has - until such time as they might need it for themselves.
Goff is hoping the government will exercise Covid-19 emergency powers to allow Auckland to draw wai from the river. He says it is necessary to do so to avoid water shortages in the summer. NZ First has said it supports Covid-19 legislation to fast-track Auckland Council's application.