Wa­ter plan up for dis­cus­sion

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

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.

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