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SWDC floats water options

Three funding levels for South Wairarapa’s water budget – including one that would result in a rise of about $1000 per ratepayer – are being consulted on as part of the council’s annual plan process.

In South Wairarapa District Council’s Annual Plan Consultation Document, one of the major consultation points is whether to keep this year’s water budget at $3.541 million [including inflation] or increase it to reduce legal, health and safety, and plant failure risks.

The $3.541m funding option [Option 1] is the cheapest but is not considered adequate for current service levels.

The consultation document said sticking to the status quo could lead to “challenges in compliance, safety, and regulatory risk management”.

There would also be a lack of funding for critical compliance monitoring and water sampling testing.

At this funding level, only the minimum running costs of the planned maintenance team are covered, meaning the risk of overflows and network failures would increase, and faults would go undetected for longer, impacting levels of service and resulting in more expensive repairs.

In comparison, the budget recommended by water services manager Wellington Water [Option 3] is $7.496m [including inflation].

The rates impact of this option is an additional $11.62 per week for each water connection to the current proposed 2023/24 rate, an additional $6.38 for each sewer connection, and an additional $0.70 for each urban ratepayer, on average.

The annual impact is an additional $972.40.

This budget level would fund existing projects and unplanned work, such as the Martinborough abatement notice, and maintain good levels of service.

There would also be more money available to increase planned maintenance and therefore reduce the risk of failures and faults.

It also makes way for a budget for emergency events.

Option 2, which sets the total water budget at $4.871m, would still present significant risks, leaving the council vulnerable to consent breaches, loss of supply incidents, and safe drinking water breaches.

However, under this option, the minimum funding requirements to operate water plants would be met, and basic planned and routine maintenance levels maintained.

The weekly impact of Option 2 would be an additional $3.82 for each water connection to the current proposed 2023/24 rate, and additional $2.00 for each sewer connection, and an additional $0.60, on average, for each urban ratepayer.

This would equate to an annual addition of about $334 to the rates bill. – 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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