June 2018 - Chairman's Report
Long Term Plan
The Long Term Plan (LTP) resolutions in this council agenda represent the culmination of months of work. As I have publicly noted before this new LTP is bold and aspirational and provides a great example of community involvement, council leadership and forward thinking.
I look forward to seeing and measuring the environmental improvements that will result over time from the increased level of environmental management work that will be carried out by this council. As always, we depend very heavily on goodwill and voluntary input from our communities - long may that continue.
The Water Symposium, hosted by Local Government NZ, provided further insight into the future direction of travel being considered by central government. Havelock North’s drinking water calamity and the recommendations from the subsequent enquiry are driving much of the thinking.
Without a doubt, the way water is managed and regulated will look quite different in two or three years. At this stage it is still not clear whether three waters will be included in the new water management model or not. However, it is difficult to see how drinking water and wastewater can be effectively managed without including stormwater as well. In many situations wastewater and stormwater systems are linked either by accident or design, sometimes legally and sometimes illegally.
Speakers from England, Tasmania and New Zealand discussed a number of different models, some of which work well and some don’t. The Auckland Watercare model seems to be working very well for Auckland. A key to the success of the Auckland system is that the quality of the water supplied to any part of the region is the same as every other part of the region and the price of access to that water is the same right across the region. One really big advantage is that economies of scale have enabled Watercare to invest substantial sums of money in improving the quality of water supply for all Aucklanders.
Clearly Auckland still has a long way to go with its wastewater (sewerage) systems. This was highlighted by the large number of Auckland beaches that were not safe for swimming last summer. At the time of writing, Auckland was addressing the huge capital investment that will be required to remedy that situation.
Whatever model the government comes up with, there will be a big change for district councils coming up in the near future. Hopefully, councillors and the general public will embrace the opportunities that this could bring.