Auckland Council’s Mayor and councillors are taking on the responsibility for repairing and maintaining stormwater drains in three rural districts at Te Arai, Tapora and Glorit, following a request by Rodney Local Board last year.
The switch is included in a new draft policy outlining the decision-making responsibilities of Council’s Governing Body and local boards that will become part of Council’s Long-Term Plan.
It is the latest move in a lengthy saga concerning the upkeep of the historic drainage districts, which were originally part of the old Rodney County Council. More recently, Auckland Council delegated responsibility for managing them to Rodney Local Board, with support from Healthy Waters. However, the annual maintenance budget of $26,500 – unchanged since the 1990s – has proved inadequate for maintenance and repair, resulting in drains falling into disrepair.
Board members voted in September to request that decision-making responsibility for the drainage districts be transferred to the Governing Body, citing inadequate funding for them to do it, and supported public consultation on funding mechanisms for drainage districts in Auckland through the 2021-2031 Long-Term Plan process.
However, the suggested mechanism – a new targeted rate for affected landowners – and the subsequent public consultation caused controversy recently, when Council feedback options were limited to those supporting a targeted rate with no alternatives (MM, Mar 31).
Landowners also voiced concerns that repairs and work that Healthy Waters said had been budgeted for and carried out had not in fact been done, something which they brought to the organisation’s attention when staff visited Te Arai and Tapora earlier this month.
The switch in responsibility to the Governing Body was noted and supported by Rodney Local Board members at an extraordinary meeting on May 5. One board member, Danielle Hancock of Kumeu, declared an interest and did not discuss or vote on the item, as her employer, New Zealand Biodiversity Services, performs maintenance of the drains on behalf of Council.
Public feedback is currently being considered by Council and the Governing Body will make decisions on the final 10-year budget on May 25.