Infrastructure New Zealand said that there is a need to upgrade the country’s water infrastructure, as systems are already beyond their use-by date.
CEO Stephen Selwood noted that the country’s water systems have been in use for the last 40 years. Local councils have been responsible for managing water supplies, despite a lack of funding resources. For this reason, the association recommended the establishment of a national water authority.
New Zealand needs to align itself with other countries that have used professional government and management for water infrastructure. A single authoritative body will effectively handle water resources, without encountering funding problems faced by local councils, Selwood said.
Scotland, for instance, formed Scottish Water in 2002 as the responsible group for water and sewerage supply. The Water Industry Commission for Scotland oversees the statutory corporation. Since its establishment, the country has been able to save 40 per cent on expenses and invest in water infrastructure at the same time. New Zealand needs to look into the model, especially since some major cities require funds to invest and pay for services, including those from well-drillers.
Auckland accounts for 34 per cent of the New Zealand population, aside from being an important part of the national economy with 38 per cent contribution to the GDP. However, city planners struggle to finance certain infrastructure projects that may results in water quality problems.
A shortage of investments in infrastructure would also cause a scarce supply of homes and more congested roads. The city council may consider tapping into debt capital, although it would still need to maintain a certain credit rating by maintaining a good debt-to-revenue ratio.
New Zealand’s population will continue to rise in the future, which is why the government needs to consider all options on how to improve not just infrastructure for water systems, but also for other necessities.