The reservoir on Griffin Road in Maungaturoto – currently just a couple of concrete tanks.
Kaipara District Council is undertaking several water infrastructure projects this year, including replacement of Maungaturoto’s water main pipes as part of a $6 million programme.
The works are able to take place thanks to partial funding from the Government’s Three Waters Reform programme. The KDC unlocked those funds when it agreed to a memorandum of understanding to investigate amalgamation of its assets into a centralised body.
This month, one kilometre of damaged water mains on Hurndall Street in Maungaturoto will be replaced, as well as three kilometres of raw water mains that feed the town’s water treatment plant.
A water reservoir on Griffin Road with a capacity of 300 cubic metres (300,000 litres) will be replaced. A new water trucking filling station will also be built to ensure that households with water tanks have access to top-ups without having to pay exorbitant prices during summers to water carters from further afield.
The Maungaturoto water supply system services approximately 895 people across 447 connections, as well the Fonterra factory, which draws 1.5 million litres a day.
Other upgrades across the district include pipe replacement in Ruawai and Kaiwaka, and a new wastewater treatment plant in Te Kopuru. For the projects, the KDC applied for $4.69 million from the Three Waters Reform programme.
Kaipara District Mayor Dr Jason Smith says it’s important for KDC to maintain a seat at the Three Waters Reform table, but has been silent on whether amalgamation is on the cards.
“By opting in to the first stage of the Three Waters Reform last year, we remain part of the conversation, and can continue to represent best the interests of Kaipara people.
“It has also brought funding for these urgent renewals, bringing real benefits to our communities.”
However, neighbouring councils have signalled that, if they have a choice, they are likely to opt out of the programme, meaning the KDC might not have any partners to amalgamate with.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff does not believe it would be in the city’s best interest to take on the balance sheets of northern district councils.
“Council is not convinced that amalgamation would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of
Watercare’s operation, but would likely require cross-subsidisation by Auckland water ratepayers of regions it was amalgamated with,” Mr Goff says.
“It would also risk taking Watercare’s focus off addressing critical issues around water supply and wastewater in Auckland to tackle inadequate infrastructure in regions beyond Auckland.”
The Whangarei District Council is also reported to intend to opt out of the reform, due to a lack of communication from government.
Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has said that councils will soon be provided with further information about what reforms will mean for their assets and balance sheets.
She says government-commissioned reports show that between $120bn and $185bn will be needed over the next 30 years to ensure that drinking water is up to standard.
She says that without amalgamation, household water bills could reach $13,900 a year, but reforms could bring that figure down to between $800 and $1800, or $66 to $150 a month.