4 Aug 2020

New Plymouth's water woes to cost $300m to fix

4:09 pm on 4 August 2020

New Plymouth households are being asked to fork out as much as $850 a year in extra rates in a 'Let's Smash It' option to solve the city's water woes.

New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom.

New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

A $300 million bill to bring the city's water infrastructure up to scratch is on the table as the district council seeks feedback on its long term plan.

Mayor Neil Holdom said the council was spending $55m on replacing ageing pipes in its current long term plan but that was not nearly enough.

"There has been serious under investment in our water network since the Global Financial Crisis. Ex-Cyclone Gita highlighted the problems we're facing and prompted an additional $44m investment to begin bringing our vitally important water network up to standard.

"But we're now at a crossroads as we ask how hard and fast we tackle this work, how much people are prepared to pay and also consider how we respond to Government moves to reform the three waters as the nation realises we can't continue with the status quo."

Holdom said independent engineers had peer reviewed council forecasts and agreed New Plymouth had $126m backlog of pipes at the end of their design life which needed to be replaced as soon as possible.

"We need to have a kōrero and make some big calls about how we meet this challenge."

Holdom said, over the next decade, the city would need to spend up to $300m to get its pipe renewals programme back on track

"That's the 'Let's Smash It' option. We could spend less, say up to $200m or about an extra $500 per household per year which will keep on top of renewals in the future, and clear our backlog over 15-20 years. That's the 'Let's Get This Sorted' option.

"An even smaller response of $165m or about an extra $380 per household per year would keep our renewals on track in the future but the backlog would not be cleared. That is the 'Just do the Minimum' option."

Over the next 10 weeks, residents will get the chance to have their say on how $2 billion ratepayer funds is spent when the 10 Year Plan is put together next year.

Other spending up for debate in the Top 10 Kōrero include Zero Waste, the multi-sport hub, climate, Covid-19 and creating a marina.

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