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Waipā facing millions in water spend

Published: 25/11/2014

The council has previously warned that water will drive big costs over the next 10 years as the district struggles to keep up with growth as well as replace ageing infrastructure. Council must also meet increasing environmental and public health standards.

Potentially, more than $100 million may be spent on new infrastructure to enable more residential and industrial growth as well as resolve ongoing issues around water pressure, taste and odour. Ageing infrastracture will also need to be replaced in order to maintain current services.

Group manager service delivery Barry Bergin said the council was struggling to provide enough water for Te Awamutu during summer. The resource consent which allows water to be taken from the Maungauika Stream on Mount Pirongia was being stretched “to the absolute limit”, he said.  Cambridge’s treatment plant and pipelines also need upgrading to improve water pressure and allow for future growth.

While work continues on Cambridge solutions, costs and detail around two options to resolve issues at Te Awamutu have been released for public comment. One option will be included in the draft 10-year Plan – a blueprint detailing the council’s proposed spending over the next decade.

Mayor Jim Mylchreest said the council was “looking down the barrel of a very tight budget”. As well as water, councillors were juggling other essentials like roads as well as amenities like parks, gardens and recreational infrastrucuture.

“But water is an essential service. We have to get this right and the harsh fact is that, over 10 years, it’s going to cost a lot of money.”

One option, estimated to cost $24.5 million, would involve upgrading the existing Parallel Road treatment plant, taking more water from the Waikato River and sending treated water from the plant to Te Awamutu. This option would provide a reliable, long-term water supply to Te Awamutu, Ohaupo and industial land near the airport. But over 10 years, it would push the council’s debt to more than $92 million. This still fits within Council’s financial strategy.

The second option would involve taking 100 per cent of the Maungauiki Stream as well as finding a new source of water, potentially bores. A new treatment plant and pipes would still be required at a total cost of around $13 – $16 million. This option would mean less debt for the council long-term but comes with a number of uncertainties. Town growth would need to be tightly managed and there would be restrictions on water use.

Mayor Mylchreest said, at this stage councillors preferred the first option as it offered a long-term solution to the district’s water challenges at a price he believed ratepayers could afford when spread over a number of years.

“I accept that no-one is the community is going to excited about paying for either option but we have no choice but to address the water and growth challenges we face,” he said.

Council staff were still “crunching the numbers” to see what impact both options might have on rates.
Rating information, including any proposed rates rises, would be included in the draft 10-year plan to be released early in 2015.

For more information:
Jeanette Tyrrell (on behalf of Waipa District Council)
027 5077 599?

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