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Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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No rise in water service funding

Key water services risks will not be addressed under South Wairarapa District Council’s [SWDC] proposed funding level in the 2024-25 enhanced annual plan.

Instead, the council would keep rates rises lower and maintain the current level of funding for operating and maintaining its water services.

This option costs $5.61 million and includes an allowance of $830k for unavoidable extra costs.

“In an ideal world, we would continue to increase the level of investment in our water services, but we understand this is not affordable for most people in the current economic climate,” the council consultation document said.

“This approach will put pressure on our reactive maintenance budgets until plans are developed and implemented.”

SWDC said this preferred funding option would result in fewer water services investigations, which would mean having less accurate information to make plans and set budgets for future works.

“Key risks would not be addressed; for example, we would not make further progress on the Featherston Stormwater Catchment Plan to reduce the impacts of future flood events. The outcome would be responding to flooding events after they occur rather than planning in advance to reduce the impacts.

“This approach will put pressure on our reactive maintenance budgets until plans are developed and implemented.”

This option is what has been budgeted for under a proposed 15.3 per cent rise in total rates.

Other options are to maintain the current level of funding with additional priorities to increase planning and resilience [$6.63m], which would result in 4.1 per cent being added to the proposed total rates increase, or to choose the highest level of investment for planning and resilience [$7.44m], which would result in 7.3 per cent being added to the total rates increase.

This latter option is Wellington Water’s recommended approach and covers all important activities.

The consultation document said the highest level of spending would provide for all legislative requirements, ensure current levels of service can be met, and pay for investigations to improve drinking water quality, reduce flooding risks, and further plan for growth. Consultation for the enhanced annual plan will take place between April 5 and May 5.

Water, wastewater, stormwater, and water races are paid for by targeted rates.

The draft consultation document can currently be viewed in the online agenda pack for South Wairarapa District Council’s March 27 meeting. -NZLDR
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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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