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Water Coalition Questions Figures

The People's Option Water Coalition questions the figures that have been bandied about regarding the upgrading of water works, sewerage treatment and stormwater collections systems throughout the Auckland Region.

It is claimed that much of the region's 6400 km sewerage network is now crumbling with age. Really? Has this assertion been based on putting a video camera down the pipes to check the physical state of the asset? Just how many kilometres of the total 6400 km sewerage network have actually had a video camera down them?

How come in the 2000/01 year Metrowater planned to spend $9,412,000 LESS on wastewater network renewals, because, "Pipes (were) in better condition than expected."*

*(Section 2.3 Proposed Capital Expenditure, Review of Metrowater's Asset Management Plans, Report To Investments Committee, frome Ruth Vercoe, Policy Analyst, Treasury. 16 June 2000)

We have been told that "a recent law change required all councils to produce asset management plans, and ensure they raised enough money for future infrastructure needs by allowing for the depreciation of existing assets in their budgets."

According to these asset management plans, apparently Auckland councils will have to spend $4.7million over the next 17 years, unless they find new ways of doing things.

How can we have any confidence in these figures? In the 2000/01 year, Metrowater planned to spend $8,652,000 LESS on water network renewals, amongst other reasons, because "Water main faults declining, work previously planned not defined as necessary."*

In the 2000/01 year, Metrowater planned to spend $14,741,000 LESS on cleaner harbours - sewer separation. One of the reasons put forward was that "Separation may not be best in all cases."* Translated - Metrowater failed.

Metrowater has reduced capital expenditure across the 3-year period by $15 million, primarily by reducing environmental expenditure. Metrowater have made a lot of noise about the need to clean up the beaches, and their concern for the environment - these figures prove that they haven't put OUR money where their mouths are. How can we trust a word they say? Yet this commercialised L.A.T.E. model is what the Auckland region Water Review wants to spread.

If Metrowater can be so far out in their capital spending projections, given that Auckland City must have some of the oldest pipe networks in the Auckland region, then what about the other Councils, with their much younger pipe networks?

A definite theme of the review is the insinuation that public bodies are inefficient and, we are told, cannot cope with increasing capital costs.

Throughout the world, the 'New Right' tactic has been to contrive a 'crisis' then advocate commercialisation, competition, private investment, and privatisation as the 'cure'.

Is this the case in Auckland? Are we the people just being conned?

The People's Option, by removing and banning the provision of water services according to any commercialised, corporatised or privatised business model, not only removes the possibility of commercial failure, but safeguards the interests of the community in their water services reliably remaining an essential public service, a public good.

Under The People's Option, Infrastructure Auckland powers would be extended to include the funding of water and wastewater projects.

With water services acknowledged as a public good, promotion of Council projects incorporating household-funding assistance for widespread conservation improvements would become possible, with small-scale or local solutions: hi-tech or low-tech.

The need for infrastructure expansion and demand for growth in network capacity can be lessened by conservation efforts, and dedicated Council 'conservation officials' could instigate large-scale community education campaigns on the benefit of conservation without coming into conflict with those whose interests lie in making more money out of water.

The People's Option Water Coalition Media Spokespeople Meredyd Barrar Ph 8366 389 & Penny Bright Ph 8284 517

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