WDC debates water company


The Waikato District Council is in informal discussions with Watercare Services and Waikato-Tainui on potentially forming a company to manage the district’s water and wastewater services.

Mayor Allan Sanson

Mayor Allan Sanson said talks were at an early stage with other options to manage water services still on the table.

The council already works with Watercare in Pokeno and Tuakau.

The Auckland Council-owned Watercare has treated wastewater as well as supplied drinking water to Waikato district ratepayers for many years. Watercare contractors also provide specialist technical expertise to the northern part of the district.

The Waikato council often struggles to find enough expert staff to keep up with growth and increasing health and environmental standards.

Sanson said it might make financial and common sense for the three organisations to look at leveraging their existing, years-old relationships.

“We all want the same thing. We all want a healthy Waikato River and healthy waterways but in a way that’s affordable for people in our district. And we want to deliver the best water and wastewater services we can for the best possible price.”

The three-party discussions began after neither Hamilton City nor Waipa District councils supported forming a joint, asset-owning council controlled company or CCO to manage water. Waipa and Hamilton wanted a non-asset owning model.

“We respect that each council will do what it thinks is in the best interests of its own ratepayers and we’ve certainly not closed the door on any option, including the Hamilton/Waipa option,” Sanson said.

The recent contamination of Havelock North’s water supply that caused three deaths and more than 3000 people to become ill had highlighted that local government must do a better job with specialist water and wastewater issues, Sanson said.

He said there could be a range of benefits from the council forming a separate waters company with potential support from Waikato-Tainui and Watercare.

“If a realistic option does emerge we’ll share it with our community so we can compare it to the other options on the table, including the status quo. And of course Watercare, Auckland Council and Waikato-Tainui would also need to consider whether they want to change the current working arrangements. Discussions at that level have not been held.”

Sanson said no decisions would be made until the public was consulted.

“We’re keeping our options open but we’re strongly committed to improving the way we provide water and wastewater services, that’s for sure. In the meantime it’s business as usual.”

WDC has prepared a series of questions and answers on the water issues (PDF): Options for water and wastewater management QAs

Like what we do? Support us in our mission to keep Tamahere informed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.