Hamilton City Council today approved a shared service, non-asset-owning waters management company as its preferred model for collaborating with other local councils to best manage water.
The decision means the Council’s Water Governance Group members are authorised to restart discussions with Waipa and Waikato Councils about a joint management approach, and after reaching mutual agreement with those councils, will jointly prepare a public consultation document for approval.
It’s important to note no decision has been made today to establish a shared waters management company, says Hamilton City Council Executive Director - Special Projects Blair Bowcott.
“Formal public consultation is required before any change to the model used to deliver water services, so no final decision can be made until public consultation has been completed and submissions considered,” Mr Bowcott says.
“Today’s decision is another step in a process that began in 2012 to identify and develop waters management options in the region that will provide the best benefits to residents in local communities.”
Mr Bowcott says the scale of the project and its complexity has meant some misunderstandings in the community about what the shared service model would mean and how it would work. He outlines 10 key points which explains what today’s decision means if a company was to be established:
- The company would be a CCO (a Council Controlled Organisation). It would employ staff who would manage water, waste water and storm water assets on behalf of the shareholding councils.
- The company would be a not-for-profit entity. (By law, Councils cannot make money out of water. They can only cover the costs to supply, treat and dispose of water).
- The company would not own any major water assets. Those assets would remain 100 per cent owned by each council. (The company might own some minor assets like cars and computers).
- All major decisions would continue to be made by shareholding councils. The water company, as a ‘specialist waters company’ would provide advice to each Council on where and when to invest.
- The water company would be responsible for maintenance of the waters networks.
- Each shareholding council would continue to set the cost for water services (to be recovered through general rates, targeted rates, water meters, trade waste fees etc) – just as they do now.
- The water company could not force Hamilton City to install residential water meters.
- The water company would be jointly controlled by the shareholding councils through a Shareholders Forum.
- The water company would be accountable to shareholding councils who would ensure it operated openly and transparently.
- The water company would offer operational, environmental and financial benefits that could not be achieved by councils operating on their own.