So where are the opportunities for improved efficiency and effectiveness in the Wellington region? Water New Zealand’s interest is in water services.
Water and transport services consume half of total local government expenditure.
At present all nine local bodies are involved in supplying water services to the area from Masterton and Kapiti south to, and including, Wellington.
Masterton, Carterton, South Wairarapa and Kapiti all run their own water services. Greater Wellington regional council supplies bulk water to Upper and Lower Hutt, Wellington and Porirua. Wellington and Lower Hutt retain ownership of their water infrastructure, but own a separate company, Capacity, that manages it.
Capacity also contracts to manage water services for Upper Hutt, which retains ownership of its water infrastructure. Porirua runs its own retail supply and wastewater plant. Capacity buys waste water services from Porirua for its Wellington serviced customers from Johnsonville north.
Each has its own plan and own projects within its own boundaries, often with little or no joint planning.
There is no co-ordinated or strategic approach across the water catchments in the wider Wellington region.
For instance, two utilities are planning to augment supplies independently of each other, and the regional council is looking to make its supplies more resilient in the event of an earthquake.
A great example of what is wrong with the status quo.
Sadly many local body politicians are more interested in keeping their jobs than having a sensible discussion on what is the best structure of local government in the region, to serve our residents.