Election 2023: Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown ramps up pressure on National to deliver different replacement to Three Waters

Auckland's Mayor is ramping up his pressure on the National Party to come up with a different replacement to Three Waters, warning water bills could double in the next three years if they don't. 

But Christoper Luxon doesn't accept their plan will increase costs for households. 

Auckland's got a growing sinkhole collection - one on College Hill opened up about six months ago.

The first of the site's new pipes went in on Monday. 

"There's a number of difficulties with the job, we are laying new stormwater pipes up the middle of one of Auckland's busy arterial roads," said Tim Macintosh of Kerry Drainage.

They are low-carbon - more climate-friendly and stronger. Auckland's going to need a lot of them over the next decade.

"We'd be looking at a 60 or 70km replacement programme," said Craig Mcilroy, Auckland Council Healthy Waters general manager.

The Labour Government's solution to the water woes is the plan formerly known as Three Waters. It's now dubbed the Affordable Water Reform. 

The latest iteration created 10 new entities with boards that will be appointed by groups that have a 50/50 split of council representatives and Maori. 

Those 10 boards will run all drinking water, wastewater, and urban stormwater around the country. 

The entities - because they're separate from councils - would be able to borrow more, more cheaply, to fix failing infrastructure. 

"Through getting economies of scale and making sure we are actually delivering water infrastructure in the most efficient way possible," said Labour's Chris Hipkins. 

Brown's no Three Waters fan and wants National to scrap it.

"It was never going to work and I'm quite happy they're repealing it."

National's plan would give water assets back to councils, establish a water quality regulator to set standards, and it would also require councils to ring-fence revenue for water services. That means they are promising they'd be locally run. 

"You can't just do that and think you've solved the problem, the problem is a balance sheet issue," said Brown.

Brown's warning if the water reforms are repealed by National without replacement, Aucklanders will have to pick up the tab. 

"A doubling of water rates over the next three years," said the mayor.

But Luxon said he disagrees.

"That's not what we want to see, we don't want to see bills doubling and we don't want to see an increase in rates."

Brown wants National to commit to the Crown - that's taxpayers - to guarantee water infrastructure debt.

"The problem, and it's quite easy to fix, it just needs a government guarantee of increased debt," Brown said. 

Luxon said: "We will sit down with the mayor after the election and work out how we make sure deliver sustainable finance for water."

National promising to look at water differently, despite the water bill warnings.

This article was amended on October 10 because it incorrectly stated the 10 boards will run all freshwater, wastewater and stormwater across the country. The boards will in fact run drinking water, wastewater and stormwater and the story has been amended accordingly.