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Water Consultation Process Starts To Flow

NEWS RELEASE
20th February 2001

WATER CONSULTATION PROCESS STARTS TO FLOW

Bright green gushing water in Auckland’s central city marked the launch of the Auckland Region Water Review’s public consultation process today.

The fountains in QE2 Square were turned green to highlight the potential dangers of ignoring the issues surrounding Auckland’s water, wastewater, and stormwater management.

Members of the public are being invited to say how they think the region’s water industry should be run in the future.

“At present Auckland has a triple A rating in terms of its tap water quality and, rightly, people have come to expect this high standard,” says Auckland Region Water Review Steering Group Grant Taylor.

“But this can’t be taken for granted. Auckland’s population grows by the size of Dunedin’s population every four years and the pressure this places on an already aging infrastructure means decisions on how to best manage these growing demands must be made sooner rather than later.”

The Auckland Region Water Review has been set up to review the way the business of collecting, treating, distributing, treating again and disposing of Auckland’s water, wastewater & stormwater is run, and to investigate improved alternatives.

“We’ve already got problems with wastewater and stormwater in the region. There are more than 1,000 overflows of semi or untreated sewerage onto land and in to streams and beaches every year,” says Mr Taylor.

The Auckland Regional Water Review Steering Group, which consists of representatives from all councils in greater Auckland except Franklin, has spent a year researching and evaluating different ways in which Auckland’s water businesses could be managed most effectively and it has short-listed three options.

“We’re now looking for public input on these options – we want to hear from Auckland residents what they want from their water suppliers and which option they think would be the best for managing the region’s water industry.”

Option One, “Improving Status Quo”, would see no change to the current industry structure. Water and Wastewater units currently operating as council departments would be transferred to stand- alone business units (SABUs) or local authority trading enterprises (LATEs) required to meet a comprehensive set of commercial, social and environmental objectives, put in place by its statement of corporate intent. An independent regional regulator and regional Code of Conduct would be established to ensure predetermined standards are maintained. Cap Gemini Ernst and Young has estimated that operating cost increases will be up to $0.3 million less per annum than if no changes were made.

Option Two, “Shared Network”, would see one company (owned proportionally by all the councils of the region) owning all the dams and water treatment plants that would be solely responsible for ensuring an adequate supply of water. Another company (owned proportionally by all the councils of the region) would own the water and wastewater pipelines in the region and would own the wastewater treatment plant. Three water and wastewater retailing businesses with geographically defined customer bases would be established with ownership divided between them. Cap Gemini Ernst and Young has estimated that operational cost savings could be between $0.4 and $1.9 million each year compared to the current industry.

Option Three, “One Geographical Business”, would see one organisation owning and controlling the entire Auckland water and wastewater industry. The company would be set up as a LATE and owned proportionally by the councils of the Auckland region. The business would be required to meet a comprehensive set of commercial, social, and environmental objectives and an independent regional regulator would be established to operate an information disclosure and performance monitoring regime covering health, reliability, costs, customer service and price. Cap Gemini Ernst and Young has estimated that on operational cost savings could be between $8.2 to $9.7 million each year compared to the current industry.

The public consultation period over the next month is aiming to inform the public of the options and their individual advantages and disadvantages as well as promoting general discussion and feedback on Auckland’s water issues.

“Auckland’s water, wastewater and stormwater situation is one that requires serious public consideration,” says Mr Taylor.

“Decisions we make today will affect not only our children but our children’s children.”

“It’s therefore important the public of Auckland participates in the consultation process and helps us determine how we are to best manage this vital resource in the future.”

More information and submission forms can be received by calling 0508 WATER REVIEW (0508 928377) or by visiting the website www.aucklandwaterreview.co.nz .

-ends-
For further information please contact:

Grant Taylor
Auckland Region Water Review Steering Group Chairperson
Tel: 09 307 7287 Fax: 09 373 3284

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