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Councils explore regional water plan

A regional approach to “Local Water Done Well” is underway, with Wairarapa councils expected to fund a share of the investigative work as part of continued participation in the project.

Wairarapa’s three councils have signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding a Water Services Delivery Plan for the Wellington region.

This comes after the Coalition Government repealed the previous government’s Water Services Entities Act 2022 and set out the process and legislative changes required to give effect to its Local Water Done Well policy.

Based on direction from the Coalition Government to date, councils will be required to develop a water service delivery plan by around mid-2025.

It is understood the plan would need to include provisions for increased regulation and financial sustainability.

Masterton District Council’s [MDC] infrastructure and assets manager Maseina Koneferenisi said the government had an expectation that councils would look to partner up in their delivery of three waters services. “As a forerunner to this, there is an opportunity for the Wellington councils, including Wairarapa to explore what a regional approach to Local Water Done Well might look like,” Koneferenisi said.

Masterton, Carterton, and South Wairarapa district councils now join Wellington, Hutt, Porirua, Upper Hutt, Kapiti, and Horowhenua councils, as well as Greater Wellington Regional Council as signatories on the Memorandum of Understanding.

The first phase and outcome of the collective agreement is a concept model – this will consider the kind of entity that is the most appropriate to establish, what the funding and pricing plan may be, how much the entity needs to borrow over time, what the impact on rates is and so on.

“We have requested that, wherever possible, this work be undertaken for all the interested councils as a collective and then also for the three Wairarapa councils as a stand-alone entity as an alternative,” Koneferenisi said.

“The second outcome will be a water services delivery plan.
“There is an offramp before this piece of work commences, which council will consider alongside any work undertaken on alternative options.”

The expected costs to MDC of the first phase of the collaboration is $21,000.

This will be funded through the remaining transition funds allocated by the Department of Internal Affairs for the Affordable Water Programme.

At this point, the South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] contribution would be less than $10,000 and funds are available from within the transition funding pot.

Participation beyond August will require additional funding, and this is not currently included in the 2024-25 Enhanced Annual Plan.

Carterton District Council’s [CDC] share of participation is forecast to be less than $10,000 up to August, which is considered the next major decision point for CDC, a report to the council said.

“Participation beyond August 2024 will require additional funding, which is not included in the Long-Term Plan.

“We anticipate the regional collaboration will, however, seek further assistance from the Coalition Government to support the development of the regional model.

“Failing this CDC could be expected to fund a share of the work as part of our continued participation in the project.”

– NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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