News | 15 February 2024
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The steps we are taking to fix the pipes

A warm and dry summer, growing population, high water use and an ever increasing leak backlog means Wellington is losing more water than ever before.

Reservoir in the city.
The Omāroro Reservoir under construction. The project is now complete and has doubled the water storage capacity for Wellington’s CBD.

Our aging pipes are being repaired and replaced and Wellington City Council has prioritised investment in the city’s three waters infrastructure.

Council’s Chief Infrastructure Officer Siobhan Procter says increased investment coupled with efficient service delivery is essential to ensure the capital is fit for the future.

Over the past 10 years, the Council has directly funded Wellington Water around $460 million to renew, upgrade and build new three waters infrastructure. This included $288 million spent on drinking water supply. Our 2021 Long Term Plan (LTP) committed close to $2.4 billion of ratepayer funding towards our water infrastructure and this includes the total cost of ownership including depreciation, interest and insurance costs.

In addition, in response to several out of cycle funding requests from Wellington Water, Council has provided an extra $29 million in operating costs over and above what was planned for in our 2021 LTP. Much of this has been directed towards addressing the increasing backlog of leaks.

“I understand how frustrating it is to see water trickling out on the street, and we are absolutely committed to working with Wellington Water to fix leaks as quickly and efficiently as possible. The majority of our increased investment over the last few years has been specifically directed to detecting and fixing leaks,” says Siobhan.

Additional council investment in three waters includes the construction of the Omāroro Reservoir, a large, buried reservoir above the playing fields at Prince of Wales Park.

The reservoir, officially opened in February 2024 – although in operation since December 2022, provides a significant increase in water storage for Wellington city and in the event supply pipes are disrupted, the reservoir will ensure 48 hours supply of water to the city.

Spending on drinking water infrastructure continues to be a focus, Siobhan says.

“There is strong mayoral support for increased investment in drinking water in the next LTP. This includes planning, design and roll out of water meters across the region.”

An independent review into Wellington Water’s operational performance was completed last year and provided several recommendations to enhance efficiency, identify cost savings, and improve transparency and reporting.

Read the independent report and recommendations on Wellington Water Ltd

Wellington Water – providing our water services

Wellington Water Limited (WWL) is a Council Controlled Organisation which was established in September 2014 to manage three waters for its shareholder council owners. These are Wellington City Council, Hutt City Council, Porirua City Council, Upper Hutt City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council, and South Wairarapa District Council.

The role of WWL (under a collective Management Services Agreement – MSA) is to safeguard the councils’ water assets from damage, loss and destruction, and keep the assets in good condition and repair. This includes managing the risks associated with all water assets and advising councils of funding requirements to manage our current and future infrastructure.

Funding for WWL comes from Council water services related revenue (via targeted rates and metering charges). An annual budget is agreed with WWL for Operations and Capital Programmes to undertake all operational tasks for drinking water, stormwater, and wastewater, and WWL is responsible for delivery of the capital programme.

From 2017, WWL moved to a OneBudget model whereby the shareholding councils provide bulk funding based on advice from WWL. WWL then distribute the funding across the three waters.