Need for more water investment made clear

2 June 2021

Water New Zealand says new evidence just released shows the extent of the challenges facing the three waters sector.

The Department of Internal Affairs has just released a series of reports which look at the need for reform and addresses some of the key issues raised during consultations with the sector.

Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe says New Zealanders have made it clear that safe drinking water and healthy environmental outcomes are a priority, but there will be a need to achieve this in the most affordable and effective way.

The latest Water Industry Commission for Scotland (WICS) report released today, estimates that we need to invest between $120-b and $185-b over the next 30 years to comply with quality standards.

“We all want to swim in beaches and rivers that are clean and to be able to turn on the tap anywhere in the country and have safe drinking water but achieving this will come at a big cost."

She says there has been significant under investment in water infrastructure for many years.

The Deloitte report, on the economic impact of the reforms and implications, forecasts that every region would be expected to be positively impacted in terms of GDP and employment growth.

The report says the reforms would result in an extra 5,800 to 9,300 new jobs between 2022 and 2051. It predicts growth rates of up to 80 percent in the water sector workforce and says this will present significant opportunities for employment growth, specialisation and increased career opportunities.

“However, councils and utilities are already finding it difficult to fill current vacancies. This has been recognised for some time. For instance, Water New Zealand’s latest National Performance Review revealed an eight percent vacancy rate across the country in 2019/2020.

“That is why Water New Zealand has begun working with Connexis, Taumata Arowai and the Department of Internal Affairs on a long-term strategy to develop a workforce today to meet the needs of tomorrow.”

Water Reform