Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Growth study finds Lower Hutt lacking in water investment

A recently completed growth study by Wellington Water has revealed that significant investment is required in Lower Hutt’s water infrastructure over the next 30 years.

Wellington Water presented the information in the report to Council at a recent briefing.

This study is the result of a two-year project looking at the effects of population growth on the region’s three waters infrastructure. Lower Hutt’s population has already grown 8% since 2018 and is predicted to increase by a total of 25% over 30 years.

The key findings of the growth study are:

  • $1.27 billion is required over 30 years to meet the demand of future population growth, and to bring existing networks to target levels of service;
  • 18% of this funding – $0.23 billion – is budgeted for in Hutt City Council’s current Long-Term Plan 2021-31;
  • On average $35 million in additional funding will be needed per year for the next 30 years, to meet growth demands and bring networks to target levels of service; and
  • Stormwater improvements make up 64% ($810 million) of the estimated investment to provide these essential services for the expected population growth.

Hutt City Council Chief Executive, Jo Miller says the new growth study builds on a transformative briefing in January 2020 when the scale on the investment needed to renew and maintain the city’s three waters infrastructure was revealed.

“Lower Hutt is a growing city, which is exciting but also brings its challenges. Investment in infrastructure is one of those clear challenges,” Ms Miller said.

“This study shows a lot of work needs to be done to meet the demands of future growth in our three waters infrastructure especially in our city’s stormwater network.

“The growth study clearly shows Hutt City Council needs to continue to prioritise investment in this important area,” she said.

Wellington Water Chief Executive, Colin Crampton acknowledged the scale of the study’s findings and what it means for Lower Hutt. He noted Council’s current level of three waters infrastructure renewals investment is considered good in terms of halting the backlog of renewals, but said Council was still behind.

“A peer review by the Water Industry Commission for Scotland suggested the level of capital investment was on the light side based on comparisons with other cities,” said Mr Crampton.

Hutt City Council in its 2021-31 Long Term Plan agreed to spend $587 million on capital expenditure compared to $257 million in its 2018-2028 Long Term Plan.

Hutt City Council is now preparing more comprehensive advice for further consideration. This will be subject of a more detailed briefing for the incoming council following the local government election in October, Council said in a statement.

Wellington Water’s presentation and the growth study can be viewed here.

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