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Partnership between Waikato District Council and Watercare

Waikato District Council and Watercare Services Ltd will join forces to deliver safe drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services to the Waikato district from 1 October.

A contract has been signed between the two organisations with a strong focus on better environmental outcomes and affordable water services.

The journey to get here has been long, but through every bend in the road the focus has been on delivering the best outcome for our communities, Waikato District Council Chief Executive Gavin Ion says.

Council has been looking for a more efficient and cost effective way to provide water supply, wastewater and stormwater services since 2012. This has included the option of a proposed Council-Controlled Organisation with Waipa District Council and Hamilton City Council. This proposal was ultimately not progressed and Waikato District Council then consulted with the community as part of its 2018-28 Long Term Plan.

86% of the community told us they wanted a change to the status quo, Mr Ion says. “That direction has today become a reality. Council has been able to establish an independent Waters Governance Board that will oversee the long-term relationship between Council and Watercare going forward. The waters assets will remain in the ownership of Council. The contract will over time deliver a better service for our people.”

Waters is big business for Council. The first five years of the contract is estimated to cost $213 million. “As indicated in the Long Term Plan, this contract is expected to save us $28 million over the first 10 years. What is equally as important as the expected savings is the delivery of better environmental outcomes,” Mr Ion says.

Waters Governance Board chair Rukumoana Schaafhausen says this contract being finalised is not only a big deal for the Waikato, but a step in the right direction for New Zealand. “The way local councils deal with their water business will need to change in the future. We need to be able to come together for the benefit of all our people and the way water is handled going forward. The Waters Governance Board commends Waikato District Council for being proactive and innovative in this space.”

Watercare Chief Executive Raveen Jaduram says he is pleased that Watercare is able to support Waikato District Council. “We understand that delivering water and wastewater services in a safe, reliable and sustainable way can be really challenging for councils around New Zealand who do not have the benefit of scale.

“We’re really pleased to be able to support the Waikato District Council through this service delivery contract. This relationship brings together their local knowledge and our industry expertise to the benefit of many communities in the Waikato.

“We have been operating in the Pokeno area for a number of years now so in many ways this is a natural and positive extension of our existing relationship,” says Mr Jaduram.

From 1 October the community should not notice a change in service. Bills and correspondence will continue to come from Council. Those that work on the water network will just be Watercare employees.

© Scoop Media

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