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Three Waters goldrush may stretch market

Carterton District Council’s Daleton Farm site. PHOTO/FILE

 

MARCUS ANSELM

[email protected]

The multi-million-dollar Three Waters reform goldrush may force up prices and cause a talent shortage, says a Carterton District Council [CDC] report.

District councillors will be urged to follow their Masterton counterparts and sign up to central government’s Three Waters programme at their meeting tomorrow [Wednesday August 12].

Last week, Masterton councillors voted to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Crown.

A report authored by CDC chief executive Jane Davis will recommend the council follows its northern neighbour to agree to the MoU.

But the report said demand may stretch the market for contractors.

The MoU will allow CDC possible funding of up to $1.84 million.

The money comes from a direct $920,000 allocation from the central pool of more than $700m.

The new Taumata Arowai start-up crown agency is also funded from this pool.

It will tackle a new drinking water regulatory system, and improving wastewater and stormwater networks.

CDC may then be able to take the same again from a regional fund of $29.9m, depending on how that is divided up.

Councils that agree to opt-in by the end of this month will receive a share of the initial funding package.

Wairarapa’s Mayors discussed the matter at a meeting last Friday.

However, the rush for experience and talent in the sector may cause challenges, Davis’s report said.

“With so many infrastructure projects underway at the same time [and on top of the many shovel-ready projects announced] the market may be stretched significantly resulting in an inability to secure contractors and/or contract process being unreasonably high,” she said.

Some kind of shared service arrangement is one of the conditions of further backing from central government, beyond the initial pay-out.

Unlike its southern neighbour South Wairarapa, Carterton District Council has not entered into a shared services arrangement for water infrastructure.

Signing up for the first tranche of money does not lock councils in for the long term, and any further funding will be at the central government’s discretion.

The projects the money will fund are yet to be confirmed.

Davis’ report did earmark candidate initiatives, including the relocation of the council’s water operations staff to its Daleton Farm site, replacement wastewater mains for the town’s High St, and a subsidised non-potable water tank scheme in urban Carterton.

If passed, a draft programme of work will be put to CDC’s Infrastructure and Services committee meeting on September 9.

The report said CDC will also need to engage with local iwi, in particular Hurunui o Rangi Marae, “on the future direction of the reform and its implications”.

The marae is also a water supply service provider. Council officers have been tasked to provide any support to the marae’s committee needed as it works through the reform’s implications.

The council meets at 1pm tomorrow at the Carterton Events Centre.

-NZLDR

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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