The Te Tahi Water Treatment Plant near Pirongia. Council-managed water assets could be handed over to a new multi-regional entity to manage.
Waipā District Council faces the prospect of spending millions of dollars on water service upgrades, then being forced to hand them over to a new Government entity to run.
The council had $100 million flagged its long term plan to build a new wastewater treatment plant for Cambridge, a project it must complete by 2027.
It also had $13m put aside for wastewater plant upgrades, including about $8m for upgrades to the Te Awamutu plant to be completed mid-2021.
But the new Cambridge plant could be in progress when the Government’s Three Waters Reform programme goes live, establishing an inter-regional entity to take over water services from councils.
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Pirongia ward councillor Clare St Pierre said it wasn’t clear whether the community would receive some recompense for the new and upgraded plants, if the assets had to be handed over.
“But my main worry is that these [water services] will be run on a commercial basis, and only invested in areas where they think it’s going to pay for itself. We have some rural communities where that won’t work.”
She said the council did not rate people to make money out of its delivery of water services.
The reform was prompted by reports of poorly performing water services and the costs of repairs for some councils, especially in rural areas, would be unaffordable.
The Government wanted to set up publicly owned, multi-regional water entities to share and lower the cost of water services.
It planned a roadshow to explain the water reforms and give elected members a chance to ask questions, such as those around ownership of assets.
Waipā deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk said councillors would attend one of those meeting later this month.
She said the question around ownership of assets was important.
“We have set aside a significant amount of money for the Cambridge treatment plant and I guess we, along with ratepayers, are keen to understand how the reforms might help us.”
Waipā District Council Service Delivery Group Manager Dawn Inglis said regardless of when the reforms might be introduced, the council was committed to build the new treatment plant for Cambridge.
The current plant had been upgraded but was given resource consent by…