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Published 27/08/2015

Councils take action on water resilience

The Wellington Water Committee is taking a regional approach to the challenge of getting Wellington’s water network up and running after a major incident.

The Committee comprises a representative of each of the Hutt, Porirua, Upper Hutt and Wellington city councils, and Greater Wellington Regional Council, and is chaired by David Bassett, deputy mayor of Hutt City Council. The five councils jointly own Wellington Water.

Engineering investigations in previous years have shown parts of Wellington city could be without reticulated water supplies for up to 70 days if a major earthquake broke supply pipelines and damaged reservoirs. Parts of Porirua could take up to 60 days, while areas in the Hutt Valley may go without water for up to a month.

Chair David Bassett says Wellington Water is the right mechanism to address this challenge, as having “member councils work together ahead of a disaster has got to be better than trying to get everybody on the same page after one.

“Water supply resilience is a regional issue that requires a regional approach because it’s not just about tanks and pipes, it’s also about how we can help our communities be better prepared.

“Working together is also going to ensure the region’s ratepayers get the best value for money. It’s vital we do what we can now, so we can get back up and running as quickly as possible.”

Resilience is not just a regional issue. As Christchurch has shown it is also a national one, in terms of the disruptive economic impact a major event such as an earthquake can have. That’s why resilient infrastructure is one of the key focus areas that Treasury’s national infrastructure unit, and Local Government New Zealand, have identified.

Treasury said it was “pleased to see Wellington Water using a business case approach to strengthen resilience in the Wellington region, in such a collaborative way across five councils.” 

The case for investing in water supply resilience defines four problem statements relating to loss of water supply caused by earthquake or other threats, including climate change. It then sets out the benefits that investment in these areas would deliver. The next step will be to develop levels of service options and investment requirements.

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