LGNZ supports investigating water options that achieve value for ratepayers
Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) supports councils considering better ways to manage water assets and services for operational efficiencies and cost saving, which aligns with the LGNZ 3 Waters project that will create a clear picture of potable water, wastewater and stormwater assets and services and develop a national information framework.
An independent report to the Waikato Mayoral Forum has recommended establishing a jointly-owned limited liability company to manage the water infrastructure of three councils in Waikato, which the communities are considering.
LGNZ supports investigating better ways to deliver and manage water assets and services. Employing a council-controlled organisation is an accepted model within the sector and under the Local Government Act 2002. This model is different to creating city-specific legislation such as has previously occurred in Auckland.
A partnership approach to cohesive management of water assets and services has proven successful in several regions of New Zealand. It can lead to reduced operating costs, better decision making and efficiencies but regional context is important and one model will not work for all areas.
“For some councils, partnering up to share the management of water infrastructure can be a way to optimise capital by achieving scale for savings from water conservation, trade waste services and chemical sampling,” LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says.
“Water infrastructure management is a matter handled at local level by individual councils. For some, the use of a publicly owned entity to manage water assets and services across more than one council can result in reduced operational costs for ratepayers.”
Fears that commercialising water infrastructure could lead to selling off council-owned assets are incorrect, because the Local Government Act 2002 (section 130) forbids privatisation.
Any council making significant changes to the structure of its water management will put the issue up for consultation, giving communities the chance to have their say.