Water plan up for discussion
Councils in the Wellington region will be meeting this month to consider a proposal to combine retail and bulk water services.
The councils want to increase the number of services that they share as a regional priority and have identified four areas to develop on a shared basis. Water in all of its forms is one of those areas. The proposal looks at including Wellington Regional Council’s water functions with the retail water, storm water and waste water, currently managed by Capacity (Capacity is owned by Wellington, Porirua, Hutt and Upper Hutt city councils).
The councils will continue to own their water assets and determine their annual programme of work, but will be managed by the new entity with a regional emphasis on quality service delivery.
Options being considered involve integrating the regional council’s bulk water supply function with Capacity, introducing a new company name (proposed to be Wellington Water) to reflect its wider mandate, and establishing a water committee (made up of representatives from the five local councils that would be shareholders of the new company) to ensure policy decisions remain the responsibility of elected representatives rather than appointed directors.
It is proposed that Wellington Water would manage the water, waste water, storm water and bulk water supply assets and provide services to customers on behalf of the five councils.
However, all councils would retain ownership of their water infrastructure assets.
If the city councils support the proposal, the proposal for the regional council to become a shareholder in Wellington Water would need to be consulted on.
Regional council chief executive David Benham said the councils and Capacity agreed it was important opportunities for efficiency around the region were identified.
‘‘As part of the Shared Services programme recently agreed by the mayoral forum, the integration of bulk water supply and retail water supply is being reviewed,’’ he said.
‘‘Integration of water services management for metropolitan Wellington has been looked at in the past, with the focus on improved efficiency and economies of scale. However, it has not been possible to reach a consensus.’’
Mr Benham said that with Porirua and Upper Hutt city councils having become shareholders of Capacity last year, the time was right to look at it again.
‘‘If the proposal gets the support of the four city councils and the regional council, we’ll be encouraging people to have their say during our Annual Plan consultation process in March/April.’’
The regional council expects to discuss the options at its meeting on March 6.