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Wellington Chamber Endorses Taskforce Water Report

The Wellington Chamber of Commerce supports the recommendations of the Wellington Mayoral Water Taskforce in their report released today.

"The Taskforce brought together members from different parts of the Wellington community, including the Chamber, and we have come to an agreement as to what needs to happen next," says John Milford, Chief Executive of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce.

"The 42 recommendations are a result of meaningful and thoughtful engagement, and are real credit to those all those involved.

"The findings and recommendations are there for all to see and there is now a clear way forward for the city. These problems aren’t going to get any smaller - quite the opposite - so we need to get on with it.

"The Taskforce heard from stakeholders, other groups, and from Council themselves about the historic errors made when it comes to Wellington’s Three Waters infrastructure. While rates revenue kept pace with the maintenance and renewal requirements, we found that revenue was not invested into ensuring the quality of services and future-proofing the system, instead siphoned off elsewhere.

"Wellington City Council’s upcoming Long-Term Plan draft must include the immediate remedial costs and prioritise this over other expenditure. It is up to Council to now prioritise Wellington’s water infrastructure - something that our city has not done in the past.

"The report forecasts a significant increase in funding required. While now is not the ideal time to load more costs onto businesses, it is the time to borrow and invest. However, the last thing we need is to have the job half done. Now is the time for Councillors to make the hard decisions and focus on urgent infrastructure like water.

"As there are still questions around the historic financial arrangements, a bottom-line condition for any future rates raised is that the revenue is ringfenced. Funding must be available for renewal and maintenance, as recommended by the Taskforce.

"The Chamber also supports the implementation of ‘smart’ water meters. Shockingly, experts estimate water loss in the Wellington region to be as much as 30 per cent. We know the average Wellingtonian uses 50 per cent more water than the average Aucklander. We believe metering will facilitate behavioural changes, for the better, and with further benefits such as stopping the current unknown leaks. This goes further than just funding the maintenance of the system, it is also about the sustainability of the resource.

"Establishing a new entity, with the mandate and ability to get on with the job, is another recommendation the Chamber backs.

"Council must urgently accept and respond to these recommendations."

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