A separate website contains information about this complex work-stream. It includes all council and consultants’ reports, media releases and copies of reports previously commissioned on this issue by the Waikato Mayoral Forum. Please visit www.waterstudywaikato.org.nz(external link)for up-to-date information.
In summary, in May 2015, an independent report about the best way to manage water infrastructure was presented to Hamilton City, Waikato District and Waipa District councils. The report looked at three options:
- boosting the existing shared service arrangements between all three councils
- retaining the status quo with each council running its own operations
- considering forming a ratepayer-owned council-controlled organisation (CCO) to run water services on behalf of all three councils.
The study was not asked to consider establishing a private water company. The privatisation of council-delivered water services is against the law in New Zealand.
The independent report made two recommendations:
- that the three councils transfer their water and wastewater assets into a jointly-owned not-for-profit CCO, and
- that council retain ownership of their storm-water assets, but outsource management of those assets to the CCO.
Since the October 2016 elections all three councils have reviewed the information received. While all three councils want the most effective and cost-efficient water and wastewater services, they have reached different views on the best model to use.
Waikato District Council has confirmed its commitment to an asset-owning CCO, as originally recommended in May 2015.
Hamilton City Council has agreed a shared waters management company (a non asset-owning CCO) is its preferred model, pending public consultation. Waipa District Council has also agreed to support this model, also pending public consultation.
Waikato District Council has not formally discussed the non-asset owning CCO model and will consider this option in July 2017. At the same time, Waikato District Council will consider a further option; to expand its existing relationship with Watercare Services Ltd.