Commissioners will remain at the helm of Environment Canterbury for an extra three years until 2016 because important work needs to be completed, Prime Minister John Key says.
The government sacked all 14 councillors and appointed the commissioners in 2010 following concerns about ECan's progress in administering water management responsibilities and resource consent processes.
The commissioners' term was intended to end at the local government elections in October 2013.
Mr Key, who is attending an Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) meeting in Russia, says that the appointment of commissioners has been very successful.
"But the work is not yet completed. In reality, with the Christchurch earthquakes coming along, it was our view that if we want to have an operative water plan, and the issues of water resolved once and for all, for the Canterbury region, it was important to have another three years of commissioners," he said.
Local Government Minister David Carter and Environment Minister Amy Adams announced that legislation to extend the governance arrangement until the 2016 local government elections will be tabled in parliament on Friday.
A ministerial review of the arrangements will take place in 2014.
"We want to go back to democracy. We understand the issues, and we considered them very closely," Mr Key said.
When the current commissioners' terms expire in October 2013, the government will follow an appointment process to hire new commissioners or reappoint the existing ones.
The government is also appointing commissioners to run the debt-stricken Kaipara District Council, which requested intervention last month.