The Waikato District Council wants to form a ratepayer-owned, council controlled organisation (CCO) for future water management along with the Waipa District and Hamilton City Councils.
In May, independent consultants recommended the three councils form a not-for-profit CCO to manage water and wastewater across the sub-region, a move predicted to save ratepayers of the three Councils $468 million over 28 years.
Waikato district would save $28 million over 10 years, and would get huge benefits from improved drinking water quality and environmental compliance, said the report whose recommendations have been championed by Tamahere councillor Wally Hayes.
Today members of Waikato district’s powerful Infrastructure Committee, chaired by Hayes, voted unanimously to support, in principle, the formation of a ratepayer-owned CCO to manage water on behalf of the three councils.
Putting the motion to back the CCO, Hayes said the benefits of forming it were clear.
“We will have economies of scale that will provide savings around operational expenditure, capital expenditure and debt optimisation. The CCO will provide far and away the most cost effective water and wastewater services for ratepayers.”
After the meeting, Hayes told Tamahere Forum there would be some benefits for Tamahere ratepayers from the move but mostly they would be district-wide with other areas standing to gain more.
The benefits to Tamahere ratepayers were not as significant as for those in district towns because Tamahere does not have a wastewater reticulation system, and its drinking water is already Aa grade from the Hamilton water treatment plant. Elsewhere in the district there would be quality improvements.
“However, the savings identified in the report would see reduced costs for these services across all the council areas and as such would mean reduced prices for water per cubic metre compared to the status quo,” Hayes said.
“The savings achieved by a CCO would also apply to building new infrastructure for growth, saving in excess of 4% in development charges.
“The environmental and economic benefits are applicable to all residents and provide opportunities for improved environmental performance and the ability to respond to growth and economic development far more efficiently than the status quo could,” Hayes said.
Mayor Allan Sanson stressed it was an “in principle” decision only.
“Today’s recommendation sends a strong signal to ratepayers that we believe forming a CCO and capturing those massive savings is the best thing to do. But we have to wait and see where Hamilton and Waipa go before proceeding any further.”
The recommendation will need to be ratified at a full Council meeting later this month.
“Before any final decision is made all three councils would need to go through an extensive consultation process with their communities. We’re still in the very early stages but we thought it was important to be upfront about where this council believes it should be heading.”
Waipa District Council and Hamilton City Council have yet to formally discuss the independent report. Both councils have already held public workshops.
For the reports and background on the water studies click here.