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Councils to collaborate to improve water management

Nine councils, including Waikato Regional Council, have agreed to progress a strategic business case to identify best practice in all water activities.

At the Waikato Mayoral Forum last week, the mayors of Matamata-Piako, Waipa, South Waikato, Waitomo, Thames-Coromandel, Hauraki, Taupō and Ōtorohanga district councils, and chair of the regional council, Alan Livingston, supported a proposal to take a collaborative approach to manage water and storm water assets.

The aim is to develop a business case to establish a centre of excellence to support the councils in improving the management of water assets. This jointly funded project would build on the successes of RATA (the Road Asset Technical Accord), set up by 10 Waikato councils three years ago to achieve similar improvements in the roading sector.

The new Water Asset Technical Accord (WATA) would aim to establish best practice in water and waste water, and provide the councils with guidance on asset and environmental management, compliance frameworks and investment decision making, with the aim of establishing activities.

The group will be convened by Matamata-Piako District Council chief executive Don McLeod, who said: “We know the government are looking to introduce a much tougher regulatory environment in the water, waste water and storm water space. We want to demonstrate that the Waikato is ready to step up and work collaboratively to not just meet the requirements, but deliver best practice.”

He said RATA had provided significant benefits to Waikato roading teams in improving strategic asset management processes and systems through collaboration, and a waters collaboration would do the same.

Regional council chairman Alan Livingston said while there was much work happening with water within the councils themselves, it was appropriate for the Waikato to demonstrate leadership in this space and understand the opportunities possible through effective collaboration in response to the Government’s direction. 

“It makes sense for the Waikato to work together, as one voice and to share increased costs of compliance.

“Smaller councils will find the increased compliance costs the hardest, and they can’t afford the best experts or afford to make mistakes.

“The financial benefits of collaboration have been proven with the work that has been done in the management of roading, and costs are being further minimised by using the established frameworks of RATA, which already has the knowledge and understanding of this kind of collaboration in the Waikato.”

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