One of the biggest single parcels of funding in Auckland Council’s 10-year Recovery Budget is being funnelled into water supply, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure to ensure the resilience of our water networks across the Auckland region. The investment is in excess of $11 billion, a 57 per cent increase on our last 10-year budget.
The council is also increasing and extending the Water Quality Targeted Rate (WQTR), enabling an extra $256 million of investment in water quality over ten years.
“Having health risk warnings around many of our waterways and beaches was not acceptable to many Aucklanders,” says Desley Simpson, Finance and Performance Committee Chair and Councillor for Ōrākei.
“We have made good progress in improving water quality in and around St Marys Bay and the Kaipara harbour but Parnell to Glendowie including the Tamaki Estuary, as well as Hobson Bay, still need work.
"Improvements in these areas would have been held up for another six years without the increase and extension to the WQTR."
"Ōrākei's pipes were built in the early 1900s. Significant investment is needed to improve their capacity to cope with the huge amount of intensification that has occurred, let alone future proof them, and some will need to be replaced,” says Simpson.
“Below-ground stuff isn’t sexy, you can’t see it, but actually it’s incredibly important to our wellbeing. You can certainly smell it when it’s not coping and that’s the reality for many Ōrākei Ward ratepayers.”
The WQTR increase equates to an average cost to Aucklanders of $3.30 per residential dwelling in the 2021/2022 financial year and will deliver improvements to water quality across the region. Two major regional water improvement programmes, the Eastern Isthmus and the Manukau Harbour, are now able to be brought forward and start this year.
“It’s not just below the ground infrastructure being renewed, we have community facilities that need significant investment too,” says Simpson.
“When the supercity was formed we inherited a number of facilities at varying stages of life. Sadly, many need upgrading or replacing so we are upping our renewal budget by 50 per cent to cope with that.
"We have set aside $65 million to be spent over the next three years to address the highest priority needs for community services and facilities.
“With a third of the New Zealand population living in Auckland, demand for housing is at an all-time high. Vital infrastructure is needed to support new houses, including solutions for traffic congestion. A partnership approach between central government, the private sector and the council is needed to address that,” she says.
Auckland Council is committed to prioritising infrastructure work to service new builds that are part of the Auckland Housing Programme (including Northcote, Mt Roskill, Oranga and Māngere) and other areas including Tāmaki, the North West, Drury, and around City Rail Link stations.
“Whilst we are investing a record $31.8 billion in capital investment we are also ensuring we look at efficiencies within the organisation. Building on the record $120 million of savings in the Emergency Budget, the 10-year Budget locks in $90 million in savings each year as we look for smarter, more efficient ways of working to deliver value for money to our ratepayers.
“It’s a huge work programme ahead of us but Auckland Council is committed to investing in significant infrastructure improvements in both existing parts of Auckland and new areas to cope with our ever-growing population,” says Cr Simpson.