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Green light for Hawke’s Bay councils’ government funded three waters projects

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Wairoa District Council, Napier City Council, Hastings District Council and Central Hawke’s Bay District Council have each received the green light to proceed with projects relating to three waters service delivery, funded through the Government’s stimulus package announced in July.

As part of its reforms of three waters service delivery, Government committed an initial $761m to councils across New Zealand, to support investment across the economy, helping stimulate economic activity and jobs in the wake of Covid-19, and to support the objectives of the three waters services reforms.

To gain access to the stimulus package, councils needed to opt into a partnership process with Government to reform three waters service delivery arrangements. Hawke’s Bay’s councils did so in August, making them eligible to apply for $50m, allocated across the region as follows:

  • Wairoa District Council $11.04m
  • Napier City Council $12.51m
  • Hastings District Council $15.36m
  • Central Hawke’s Bay District Council $11.09m

Each council was required to submit a project plan detailing how the funds would be spent, with projects required to start before March 2021 and be completed by 30th March 2022 as per the conditions of the funding allocation.

Each of the four council’s plans have now been approved, paving the way for work to commence.

Alex Walker, Mayor of Central Hawke’s Bay welcomes the funding, saying it will allow council to progress much needed renewals and upgrades across the district’s drinking water and wastewater networks.

“This means we can get moving on this work sooner than we would have been able to, which is great news for our community.” she says.

“We will be boosting the resilience of our Waipukurau and Waipawa drinking water networks and carrying out the first steps towards vital wastewater system upgrades that will not only to meet new regulations but also meet community, cultural and environmental responsibilities. Wastewater renewals play an important part in managing network performance, plant volumes and levels of service.”

“We will also be using some of the funds to review our 3 waters bylaws.” says Alex Walker.

In Wairoa, the funds will be used to significantly improve the safety and quality of drinking water services by replacing old or compromised critical water mains.

Mayor Craig Little says being able to access Government funding to meet the cost of the work means the Wairoa community doesn’t have to and essential jobs and training will be created for locals.

“Central Government funding is welcome, especially at this time when our local economy needs all the stimulus it can get.”

“We will be able to get moving on introducing smart meters to help reduce water loss and, therefore, the cost of water production. Improvements to wastewater plants will also mean better environmental discharges, which is critical to the health of our community.” says Mayor Little.

Sandra Hazlehurst, Hastings District Mayor says most of the stimulus funding will be put towards Hastings Council’s drinking water upgrades programme and provides an opportunity to accelerate its delivery.

“We have had a significant programme of work underway over the past four years to improve our three waters infrastructure, which has come with a significant price tag to our ratepayers. This extra investment from Government is very welcome, especially at this time when we need to be doing everything we can to boost our local economy.” she says.

“Around $11.1m will be allocated to upgrades to the main urban drinking water supply, adding to the $55.6m investment we are already making. Specifically, the funds will go towards the Waiaroha Project which will service more than 30,000 residents and is the final major component of the drinking water upgrade work for urban supplies.”

Kirsten Wise, Mayor of Napier City, is delighted the stimulus funding means additional capacity will be available to achieve some key milestones around an increased focus on managing planned and reactive drinking water maintenance programmes.

“With the aftermath of this month’s flooding still very fresh in our minds, and with clean up and repairs only just beginning, any and all central Government assistance is very welcome. Water is our number one priority in Napier City and $12.51m makes a big difference.” says Mayor Wise.

Part of the funding allocated to each council has been pooled regionally, enabling councils to work together to create efficiencies, improve timeframes and reduce cost on common three waters priorities.

Mayor Alex Walker says “Continuing on from the collaborative approach we took in commissioning an independent review of the current and potential three waters service delivery options for all of Hawke’s Bay, we are working together to create a pipeline of three waters work to be clearly communicated so that industry can resource up, and councils can deliver more quickly and efficiently.”

Councils are now engaged in the first stage of Government’s three waters reform process, and are currently doing the work to provide responses to the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) Request for Information (RFI) to all councils across the country who have opted in to the first stage of the reform process.

The information will inform DIA of the current state of every council’s three waters related asset base and condition of the assets, the operating environment, commercial and financial arrangements, and forecast investment plans.

The information will be used by government to help identify the potential options and impacts of reform on the local government sector relative to the status quo.

From here, the Government’s reform process is as follows:

  • March 2021: nationwide ‘roadshow’ of a series of workshops to put forward the options for the new Three Water entities
  • May 2021: cabinet decisions on the Three Waters reforms
  • June 2021: legislation into the house
  • June 2022: legislation passed

30 November 2020

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