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Aucklanders Favour Greater Water Cooperation

NEWS RELEASE

20 June 2001


AUCKLANDERS FAVOUR GREATER COOPERATION
FOR REGION’S WATER SERVICES


The results of a consultation process for the Auckland Region Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Review have shown people favour the ‘One Provider’ option for the provision of Auckland’s water, wastewater and stormwater services.

Review steering group chairperson Grant Taylor says the Review received 2,307 submissions and 2,486 postcards from across the region.

The options proposed were ‘Improved Status Quo’, which involves improving the existing structure; ‘Shared Network’ – setting up a competitive model; and ‘One Provider’ – establishing one regional organisation. The proposed options all have a number of points in common: assets remain in public ownership; performance information is disclosed; and a regulatory body is set up to oversee the industry.

“68 per cent of the individual and group submissions preferred the ‘One Provider’ option. This compares with 19 per cent in favour of the ‘Improved Status Quo’ option and six per cent for the ‘Shared Network’ option.”

“A wide range of groups, as well as individuals, made submissions. They included the Employers and Manufacturers Association, the Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society (Waitakere branch), Auckland Regional Council, People’s Option Coalition, Ministry for the Environment, The Housing Lobby and the NZ Labour Party,” Mr Taylor says.

He noted the most commonly supported aims of the review were safety, security and reliability; long-term sustainability of assets; accountability and environmental sustainability.

Mr Taylor says issues raised in submissions included support for an industry regulator; opposition to privatisation; support for the integrated management of stormwater with water supply and wastewater, and support for innovation, new technologies and demand management (conservation initiatives).

In addition, 2,486 postcards distributed by the Water Pressure Group/Citizens Against Privatisation coalition and sent to the Minister for Auckland, Judith Tizard, were forwarded to the Review steering committee by the March deadline.

The Water Pressure Group/Citizens Against Privatisation have put forward a ‘fourth option’, which Mr Taylor describes as effectively a variation on the ‘Improved Status Quo’ option.

“Each of the options is being analysed to identify exactly how individuals, families and businesses will be affected. We’ll also be looking at the impact of putting all water and wastewater user charges back into property rates, as proposed by the Water Pressure Group.”

Mr Taylor says the Review committee has also begun iwi consultation, holding several hui in the region, with further ones planned.

“We know costs are going to increase. Choosing the right option is about managing those costs and delivering the best water services possible to people across the region. We hope a final decision will be made by early next year,” he says.

He says work is also underway to look at how an independent regulator for the region might be funded and structured, so there will be an industry watchdog to ensure accountability, whichever option is adopted.

Mr Taylor says the councils will then seek further views from the region’s residents before final decisions are made. It is likely that councils will be in a position to make their decisions and report to Government in March or April 2002. This is later than originally planned but reflects the desire of the councils to ensure adequate analysis and consultation is undertaken.

ENDS

For further information, please contact:
Glyn Walters, Communications Convenor, Auckland Region Water Review Steering Group, tel: 09 307 6080.

Further information is also available from www.aucklandwaterreview.co.nz The website will be updated in the near future.


REF GW

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