27 Jan 2020

Hawke's Bay councils get $1.5m to assess 'three waters' agency viability

7:10 pm on 27 January 2020

Five Hawke's Bay councils are getting government funding to investigate setting up a water agency to manage drinking, storm and sewage water across the whole region.

Minister for Maori Development and Local Government Nanaia Mahuta.

Minister for Maori Development and Local Government Nanaia Mahuta. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Napier City Council, Hastings District Council, Central Hawke's Bay District Council, Wairoa District Council and Hawke's Bay Regional were awarded $1.55m to identify opportunities for greater collaboration, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta said.

"We have seen some of the advantages of regional arrangements such as Wellington Water and Auckland's Watercare in providing modern three waters service delivery. This funding contribution will progress the work already begun by the councils to increase Hawke's Bay's ability to address challenges facing three waters services," Mahuta said.

Speaking on behalf of all five councils, Napier mayor Kirsten Wise said there would be efficiencies in having a single agency deliver the three waters to the region.

"There's some significant investment required in infrastructure and this recognises that as a region we can assist each other and ensure we have a far more resilient delivery model."

However, individual councils would still have the power to decide on things like chlorination, she said.

"One of the goals for Napier is to be chlorine-free and there will absolutely be the ability for individual councils to make decisions on issues like this."

The group is the first to be awarded government funding for such a project and the money would be used to examine the impact on overhead costs and staff should a shared model go ahead, Wise said.

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