Record investment in water projects will deliver long term benefits to the region
Wellington Water has delivered a record value of upgrades, improvements, and new water infrastructure to residents in the Wellington region in the last financial year.
“By the end of June 2023, we delivered $261 million of capital projects across the region. These projects replaced old and built new drinking water, wastewater and stormwater assets on behalf the councils in the region which own and fund us,” says Tonia Haskell, Chief Executive of Wellington Water.
“This is a record number in capital delivery for us and is double what we delivered two years ago in the 20/21 financial year.
“We are acutely aware that the region’s water infrastructure is old with many assets near or at the end of their operational lives. This is a result of historic underinvestment and means we now have a backlog of work to replace pipes and other assets.
“These projects will have a positive impact on the short-term issues the region is dealing with such as water leaks, the environmental impacts of overflows from the wastewater network and will increase the resilience of the water network. The more aging assets we can replace, the better.
“We do acknowledge that some of the increase in spend is a result of recent inflationary pressures in the construction industry, but there is still a material increase in delivery.
"The continued increase in investment reflects the commitment of our councils to fund longer-term projects for better water outcomes for the region – which is great to see.
“We are extremely proud of what we’ve been able to achieve for our councils and the region’s public,” Tonia says.
Since 2018/19, Wellington Water has increased its capital project delivery four-fold from $67 million to $261 million. This is part of a long-term strategy that Wellington Water implemented in 2016 to increase delivery in capital projects by around 30-40 per cent on average every year. The intent of this approach is to try and slow the trend of assets reaching the end of their operational lives before they are replaced.
‘We have been able to do that with the benefit of our unique supply chain model that uses panels made up of teams of consultants and contractors. Our capital suppliers are treated as part of our whanau, which means that they strive for outcomes for the region alongside us. While other parts of Aotearoa New Zealand have been struggling for contractor resource, our collaborative approach has meant we have been able to continue to build our delivery capability. The model encourages innovation and cost effectiveness through all parts of the supply chain being able to have a voice in the solution,’ Tonia says.
Tonia also paid tribute to the work being put in by staff and contractors. “This year, we’ve increased the number of active projects that we have either in the design phases, planning or in construction by around 60 per cent more than the previous two years – that’s over 500 live projects we have on the go across the region.
“But it’s not just about the benefits to the region’s water infrastructure,” adds Tonia. “The work we’re being funded by our councils to do has had a wider impact across the region. From growing knowledge and skills and fostering innovation in the water sector, we’ve also created local jobs both within our organisation and our wider contractor network,” Tonia says.
Staff and contractor numbers have risen from approximately 150 in 2018/19 to just under 450 in 2022/23.
“We’re working on increasingly complex projects such as reservoirs, pipe-bridges, highly technical work within treatment plants and multi-stage, multi-year pipeline renewal programmes. All of these projects require specialist knowledge and experience. Any training and development we provide our people, and our suppliers means that knowledge can be used for future projects and in the wider sector,” says Tonia.
Wellington Water is owned and fully funded by Wellington City Council, Hutt City Council, Porirua City Council, and Upper Hutt City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and South Wairarapa District Council. All six councils are equal shareholders.
Our councils own the water infrastructure in the region, and they task us to manage the infrastructure and deliver water services to our communities.
Wellington Water is governed by a Board of Directors. The Board and our organisation receive overall leadership and direction from the Wellington Water Committee, which are also responsible for appointing members to the Board.
The Wellington Water Committee is made up of representatives from our council owners and mana whenua.