Government takeover of water supply?

By: Steve Morris

Straight from city council
A personal view,
by Councillor Steve Morris

We seldom give it a second thought when turning on taps but we’re putting tremendous faith in council’s water supply. Considering water is second only to oxygen as a necessity of life, the provision of clean water is a council’s highest priority.

Your water comes from the clear Waiorohi and Tautau Streams; originating on the western side of Mt Otanewainuku between Pyes Pa and Rotorua. Soon the Mount and Papamoa will be getting its water from the Waiari Stream, which originates on the eastern side of Otanewainuku, when a third water plant is commissioned in 2022.

I’m thankful for the foresight previous councils had delivering a system that produces some of the best drinking water in New Zealand. It’s a massive investment to provide sixty million litres of water through 1,200km of pipes at an ‘Aa’ standard; the $120m cost of the new Waiari treatment plant is evidence of this.

While this city has invested heavily in its water infrastructure, because we’ve had the population, the same can’t be said of smaller councils. In 2016, up to four people died as a result of drinking contaminated water from Havelock North’s water supply with an estimated 5000 sick.

It’s estimated it’d cost $500m to bring water supplies for smaller councils up to code. To address this, Government is considering amalgamating water supplies across the country; the ownership of our city’s water supply could be transferred to a Waikato/BOP water authority and there is a risk, if bills aren’t ringfenced, that we could be subsidising upgrades in rural Waikato.