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How to pay? Porirua told its water network needs $2billion fix over next 30 years

Report from RNZ
The Porirua City Council is scratching its head on how it’s going to meet the costs of a $2 billion bill to bring its water network up to scratch over the next two to three decades.

Wellington Water delivered the news to city councillors in a closed door meeting yesterday.

The council’s 2018 Long Term Plan showed more than half of the city’s wastewater pipes were in a poor or very poor condition, as were nearly a quarter of its drinking water pipes.

Porirua mayor Anita Baker said many of the asbestos cement pipes installed when the city was built in the mid-1900s were starting to fail – 50 years earlier than expected.

“We’ve had more water leaks come through after the Kaikōura earthquake, and the cost and compliance to do things has risen.

Despite the unflattering reports, she said the cost of fixing was “a lot higher than expected”.

“More of our infrastructure is broken than we realised.”

She said the the city had 19,000 ratepayers for 57,000 residents, “so we can’t pay all that amount”.

“We’ve asked staff to go back and look at how much we can borrow and what we can fix.”

The Mayor said the figure could get worse if residents did not reduce the water they were all using.

All but one of Porirua city’s reservoirs are rated D, meaning they’re not expected to survive a M7.5 earthquake.

The annual report cautioned that, if there was a large rupture of the Ohariu fault, the city could be without clean water for up to four weeks, and without storage for much longer.

The bill factors in the cost of growth, she said, but does not account for inflation.

“Underinvestment from councils, I have to say, have probably added up for all of us in the region.” She described the report as a wake-up call for councils.

Baker said councils throughout Wellington – Lower Hutt, Wellington, Upper Hutt and Porirua – were all facing similar issues and should go together to central government for help.

A plague of issues is facing the Wellington City Council’s water infrastructure and water quality, and it remains unclear what it will cost to fix the capital’s pipe network, or the extent of the issues.

The DomPost reported in January that the Hutt City Council will need to spend an estimated $270 million on water services over the next decade if it wants to keep up with growth. The report showed 60 per cent of Hutt city’s water infrastructure needed to be renewed in the next three decades.

Upper Hutt City Council hasn’t been given its report yet, but its latest Long Term Plan noted that the Hutt Valley’s main trunk pipeline, constructed in 1958, was ageing, and cannot be taken off-line for inspection or maintenance.

A major capital project planned in 2020/21 at a total cost of $5.3 million – to be shared between councils – will aim to duplicate the main sewer to allow for maintenance in the main pipe and improve earthquake resilience.

“As a region we’re all suffering from the same thing and Wellington Water have actually proved that – that’s it’s been under-investment and it’s actually the council’s issue, not Wellington Water’s,” Baker said.

“The problem is the councils don’t have the money to pay Wellington Water to do it.”

Wellington establishes mayoral task force

Earlier Report from RNZ
The problems with Wellington’s drinking and waste water pipes are now regional – with the Porirua City Council being told it faces a $1.8billion bill over the next 20 to 30 years.

A 2018 report shows 53 percent of the city’s wastewater pipes are in a poor or very poor condition, as are 24 percent of its drinking water pipes. The money will need to be spent on fixing leaks, maintenance and supporting growth.

Porirua’s mayor Anita Baker speaks to Corin Dann.

Mayor Barry has also said that Hutt City has been advised it needs to double its capital investment on infrastructure over the next decade.

6 comments:

  1. Potamous, 24. February 2020, 9:11

    Interest free Reserve Bank loans. We should never have to borrow money with interest for infrastructure from commercial/private banks or institutions that just create that money from debt.

     
  2. Brendan, 24. February 2020, 11:54

    Simple, introduce water meters! Charge water use according to the cost of providing it and include the depreciation of assets in the basic price.

     
  3. Kelly M, 24. February 2020, 12:39

    Disagree Brendan, that’s a bad idea as we’ve already paid for the infrastructure( assets) and for the management of it.
    Potamous has the right idea.

     
  4. Brendan, 24. February 2020, 21:53

    Disagree Kelly M – free water means people use too much and don’t care if water or flushed crap is going down the drain. Charge for water and people will realise it is a valuable resource. Okay, so the liberals will complain some can’t afford to pay. Well rebate them some of the cost.

     
  5. Kelly M, 25. February 2020, 7:45

    No it doesn’t Brendan and people have already paid over and over for the costs of having water so its not free.
    No blaming of the people, or promoting further economic punishments to them, detracts from the failures of the companies that were well paid to provide water services and maintain them .

     
  6. Farmer Bill, 25. February 2020, 11:41

    Good on Masterton for introducing water meters.

    https://mstn.govt.nz/water-meter-installation-begins/

    Every other local council needs to introduce water meters too.