20 September 2018
The Auditor-General’s report Managing the supply of and demand for drinking water was presented to the House of Representatives today.
We audited three district councils (Horowhenua District Council, Kāpiti Coast District Council, and Manawatu District Council) and one city council (Palmerston North City Council) to understand the challenges they face in supplying drinking water to their communities. We looked at what these four councils are doing to influence demand for drinking water and whether they are taking an integrated approach, using financial and non-financial methods.
We found, for all four councils, that some things had been done well and that other aspects could be improved. All four councils recognise that issues such as climate change, increased demand, increased limits on access to water, increased regulation, or higher consumer expectations are likely to affect them. However, there is uncertainty about the pace of change.
In the absence of national outcomes for supplying drinking water that councils might be required to meet, principles that they should use for decision-making, or requirements that set out what a high standard of water supply management should look like, councils are responding to their particular challenges in ways that they consider prudent and responsible.
We understand that every council has its own priorities. In our view, councils that have a broad range of objectives for providing drinking water and a greater balance between supply and demand management tools are in a better position to respond to future challenges. This is because they have taken a more comprehensive approach to providing drinking water that puts emphasis on leak reduction and water conservation, even when access to water is not restricted.
A two-page summary and epub for this report are also available.