BusinessDesk report by Pattrick Smellie
All local councils should start charging ratepayers for both drinking and waste water by volume, while new water infrastructure should be delivered regionally because of its high cost for smaller communities, says a government advisory group report.
Chaired by Wellington Regional Council chair Fran Wilde, the report was quietly released on the Department of Internal Affairs website on Wednesday, and is said by close observers to have been watered down to appease local government political sensitivities.
Among the most controversial recommendations is one that councils should “consider moving delivery of potable water and wastewater to regional level, with the management and implementation of such delivery at arm’s length from political decisions” by using a council-owned corporate structure.
The original report recommended councils be instructed to regionalise water services, rather than merely consider them.
Water New Zealand said in a statement it supported “rationalising water services and placing them at arms-length from local political control.”