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Proposal will unlock barriers to address water infrastructure deficit


27 Oct 2021

Proposal will unlock barriers to address water infrastructure deficit

27 October 2021

Water New Zealand says the establishment of four professional entities to manage three waters will unlock many of the barriers that have led to the serious infrastructure deficit across much of the country.

Chief executive Gillian Blythe says it has been clear for a long time that there is an urgent and serious need to address issues of aging and poorly performing infrastructure as well as poor service delivery in some parts of the country.

She says there are some big challenges facing the sector such as the need to upgrade infrastructure and address increasing growth, higher customer expectations and the challenges of climate change adaptation and mitigation.

“We need to find an affordable, efficient and equitable way to fix the backlog of underinvestment in infrastructure, improve service delivery and meet future challenges.

"The new regionally based entities will be able to re-invest, use resources such as staff, and other expertise more efficiently as well as adopt new technologies and better environmental outcomes.

“They will not have the competing demands that councils have for resources.

“Currently 25 percent of our wastewater treatment plants are operating on expired consents while Ministry of Health data shows that one in five New Zealanders have been supplied with drinking water that is not guaranteed to be safe from bacteria contamination.

“Wherever we live in Aotearoa New Zealand, we all want to be able to turn on the tap and have safe drinking water. We also want our rivers, lakes and beaches to be safe to swim in.

“While these challenges need to be addressed in the most effective and efficient way, there is also a need to ensure that the voices of communities do not get lost.

“It is important to ensure ongoing public and community participation in the next phase of the reform process to help ensure a successful transition.”

She says it is also important that the reforms are not put at risk due to the shortage of skilled workers.

“We are already facing a skills shortage. That’s why Water New Zealand has been working with our partners and members to help upskill the current workforce and attract more young professionals into the sector.”