Water bid rejected
A bid to ask the Government to force the Greater Wellington Regional Council ( GWRC) to give up the control of bulk water has been rejected by Hutt City councillors, who were nervous about the impact it would have on Porirua council.
Hutt council was last week briefed by Capacity, which manages the supply of water for Hutt City and Wellington, on the possible inclusion of Porirua and Upper Hutt.
Set up in 2004, it was initially envisaged that Capacity would include all the councils in the region.
Only Wellington and Hutt City, however, joined the company amid concern it would lead to water meters and privatisation of water.
Board chairman Peter Allport said Capacity had delivered savings of $3 million.
‘‘ I think Capacity has performed extremely well. I look forward to a new model where they will perform even better.’’
Both Porirua and Wellington are considering formally joining Capacity.
In a report to councillors, policy officer Robert Mccrone noted the potential for huge savings if bulk water supplier GWRC joined.
‘‘ If all councils ( including GWRC) were to integrate under the new model, the region’s ratepayers could save as much as $5.1 million annually. To put this in context in 2010/11 Hutt, Porirua, Upper Hutt and Wellington City’s bulk water levy was $23.45 million. Integration under the new model could provide councils with one year’s free water every five years.’’
He also noted their current ‘‘political focus’’ was on promoting a super city.
Councillor Max Shierlaw asked Mr Allport why GWRC had not joined. He replied that Capacity was a service provider and it was up to politicians and the community to decide issues such as that. Capacity was focusing on being ready to take over bulk water, once GWRC decides to join.
Cr Shierlaw said that in the current environment, where the Government was looking for councils to show financial restraint, the council could not ignore the significant saving from including GWRC.
He unsuccessfully moved a motion calling on the Government to pass legislation forcing GWRC to join.
Mr Shierlaw questioned the competency of GWRC and said it was clear their politicians do not have the stomach for change.
Mayor Ray Wallace said he largely agreed with Cr Shierlaw but did not support his motion.
Porirua had not yet formally agreed to join Capacity and he did not want to do anything to make their politicians nervous.
Councillor Chris Milne asked what GWRC’S response had been to hearing of the potential annual saving of over $2 million.
Capacity chief executive David Hill said there had been no recent contact with politicians. GWRC staff, however, see the ‘‘absolute necessity’’ of joining.
Mr Allport said it was clear that GWRC believes it should control all water assets in the region.
Hutt City councillors have agreed to a new model, which will include the other three councils.
The other councils have yet to make a decision on their stance, although Porirua has indicated there will be a 12-week community consultation process.
Mayor Fran Wilde did not respond to requests for an interview.