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Wellington Mayor Responds To Minister Brown’s Letter

Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau has responded to Local Government Minister Simeon Brown, outlining the work Wellington City Council is undertaking to fix water issues in the city.

“Wellington City Council is committed to dealing with the water infrastructure problems facing the region. We are collectively addressing a long legacy of underinvestment that has reached a tipping point. We are working towards a regional model that is fit for purpose for the future,” says Mayor Whanau.

“We know that people are sick and tired of this problem that has built up from decades of underinvestment in our underground pipes from both central and local government. The water shortages we are currently experiencing are a consequence of this underinvestment.

“While there are no easy fixes, our Council is committed to working together with other councils and Wellington Water to get on top of this.

“The Council has been working hard to expand investment. We have already massively increased our funding for water over the last few years. In the first year of the 2021/2031 Long Term Plan (LTP), we boosted our capital investment in three waters by 33%.

“Over the last three years Wellington City Council has provided Wellington Water with an additional $25 million in opex funding over and above what was approved in our 2021-31 LTP, and much of this has been directed to detecting and fixing leaks.

“As we plan our budget for the next 10 years as part of our LTP, I am committed to increasing our investment in water even further.

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“We know we lose a massive amount of water to leaks. This is why just before Christmas, the Council approved $2 million in extra funding for Wellington Water to fix as many leaks as possible over the coming months.

“To ensure the extra money we are putting into Wellington Water is actually resulting in fixing more leaks we will be working with them and other Councils to confirm they have the right set-up and tools to work efficiently.

“Regarding the Minister’s letter sent late on Friday night, we respect the concerns shared by the Minister and it is a shame this confusion has arisen. Wellington City Council will work quickly to provide all information requested by Minister Brown under the Local Government Act.

“I have requested a meeting with the Minister to discuss his concerns and to provide further information.

“Wellington City Council responded as requested within the deadline set by Mayor Campbell Barry on the draft letter to be sent on behalf of all shareholding councils. Not all of our feedback was incorporated but we fully support the letter and its intent. Had we known that two of the four councils were also providing more detailed appendices to that letter, we would have provided our own.

“Unfortunately, this misunderstanding has given rise to the perception we did not respond or that we don’t take this matter seriously. We did - and we do.

“Wellingtonians expect central and local government to work together and get on with finding solutions for our water crisis. That is our focus.” says Mayor Whanau.

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