After deliberating for nearly three hours today on wastewater services options for its Annual Plan, the Waikato District Council decided to proceed with the option that will allow it to prepare long term plans to protect waterways and environmentally sensitive areas.
An Annual Plan for 2017/18 incorporating this option will now be drafted for formal adoption at an extraordinary Council meeting on 28 June.
The Council’s decision came after it received and considered 466 submissions and heard presentations on 14 of those submissions yesterday.
Of the written submissions received by the Council, 41% were in favour of the option to be included in the draft Annual Plan (Option2), 42% were in favour of a cheaper option to mitigate key risks of wastewater overflows (Option 1) and 11% were in favour of a more expensive option to prepare long term plans for a district-wide ‘continuous improvement programme’ (Option 3).
The Council also undertook a poll of people who attended drop-in sessions during the consultation and sought feedback on social media. Feedback received through polling and social media showed most of these respondents were in favour of Option 2.
The Council vote was carried by a majority, with Councillors Stephanie Henderson, Shelley Lynch and Eugene Patterson voting against the decision to proceed with Option 2.
During the Council deliberations today Mayor Allan Sanson said, “This is all about asset management. Asset data is key to every decision you make and…we’ve been flying blind for 15 years.”
Commenting on the impetus to consider the issue, Mayor Sanson said, “There was a strong demand from Councillors in this Chamber to lift the level of services we provide after the problems we had [in Raglan Harbour] last year.”
He said, “The Jacobs report highlighted for me the lack of understanding we had about our infrastructure… Raglan was the catalyst to force our hand to do something about it.”
The Council’s General Manager Service Delivery Tim Harty said that interim results received this week from wastewater network investigations approved last year so far showed that 20% of the network was in poor condition and that the life of the Council’s wastewater assets was lower than average.
“The reason we need to understand our assets is so that we can manage our assets going forward in the most cost-effective way possible,” he said.
Option 1 would allow the Council to assess the condition of only 25% of its network altogether, whereas Option 2 would allow for about 50% of the network to be assessed by the time the Long Term Plan was due to be considered next year, and for the whole network to be assessed by mid-2019, said Mr Harty.
Option 2 proposes that targeted wastewater rates will rise by between $78 and $230 depending on where the ratepayer lives. The change is complicated by the fact that the Council is still in the process of moving from five different wastewater rates throughout the district to a single district-wide rate that will be introduced in the coming year.
Ratepayers can check the impact on their individual rates with an online rates calculator on the Council’s website at www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/rid.
For more information please contact:
Senior Communications Advisor
Waikato District Council
07 824 8633