Council Submits $10m Water Infrastructure List for Govt. Approval - Signs Water Reform MoU

Waimakariri District Council this week finalised a $10m+ list of projects which will see residents benefit from upgraded Three Waters infrastructure.

The funding is part of a stimulus package made available to the Council in return for signing up to the first stage of the Government’s Three Waters (drinking water, wastewater and storm water) Reform programme.

See more about the water reforms below.

This funding will allow a number of projects which were planned for future years to start immediately without needing to cover the significant up-front capital costs from rates.

In order to access the stimulus funding, the Council was required to submit a list of projects which could get underway quickly and be mostly completed within a year.

Earlier this week the Council nominated the following 11 projects:

  • Loburn Lea Wastewater Upgrade
  • Fernside Wastewater Upgrade
  • Poyntzs Road Water Source Upgrade
  • Tuahiwi Water and Wastewater Upgrades
  • Oxford Wastewater Upgrades
  • West Eyreton and Summerhill Storage Upgrades
  • Ohoka Storage Upgrade
  • Three Waters Reform Investigations
  • Headworks Asset Management Improvements
  • Drainage and Waterways Manager
  • Central Rangiora Wastewater Upgrade.

The total value of these projects is $10.3m, $8.02m of which will be covered by central Government funding. The remainder will be made up through targeted rates, development contributions and general rates.

The communities that will benefit from the projects can expect to hear from the Council in the coming weeks and months as detailed design work is completed.

Generally, the funding presents a significant benefit to the district to provide much needed infrastructure upgrades while minimising any rating impacts.

Council expects to hear back from Government regarding the approval of the nominated projects within the coming month.

Waimakariri District Council Sign Up for First Stage of Water Reforms

In July 2020, the Government announced a funding package of $761 million to provide immediate post-COVID-19 stimulus to local authorities to maintain and improve three waters infrastructure, and to support reform of local government water services delivery arrangements.

Waimakariri District Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government in August, committing it to the first stage of the water reform programme in order to access an $8m slice of the stimulus package. This will allow the Council to further improve infrastructure across the District with a lower impact on ratepayers than previously possible.

The MoU with central government states that the Waimakariri District Council are:

  • Willing to explore different ways of delivering water services -- drinking water, wastewater and stormwater
  • Willing to share information on our network and services with neighbouring councils and central Government and that we are open to discussions about how we might be able to work together in the future.

It’s important to note that signing the stage one MoU does not commit the Council to anything beyond that or to change the way it delivers Three Waters services, and there is an ‘opt out’ clause for Council following the first stage.

However, the second stage of reforms would represent a significant change to how Three Waters services are delivered and the Council is promising to investigate the implications thoroughly before progressing any further.

The earliest a decision on this is likely to be made is mid-2021 and significant engagement with the community will be undertaken before any commitment is given.

Over the past three years, central and local government have been considering solutions to challenges facing delivery of three waters services to communities.

This has seen the development of new legislation and the creation of Taumata Arowai, the new Water Services Regulator, to oversee and enforce a new drinking water regulatory framework, with an additional oversight role for wastewater and stormwater networks.