City Storm-Water – Long term planning

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In Lewis Mumford’s book The Culture of Cities (1938), he wrote: “The transformation of the rivers into open sewers was a characteristic feat of the paleotechnic economy. Result: poisoning of the aquatic life: destruction of food: befouling of water so it was unfit to bathe in”. (p186)

Integrated Catchment Management Plan

In preparing Hamilton’s storm-water plan the consultant’s conclusion advised, ‘The management of storm-water and receiving waters has been changing rapidly over recent times in Hamilton City. It is now generally acknowledged that the wholesale piping of streams and uncontrolled discharges to rivers and lakes is not acceptable’. (p.17) That may explain why in past long term plans, councillors have been inconsistent in the timing for investment.

Hamilton former 10 year plans

In 2015 a number of city councillors had high hopes that by having storm-water as a Council Controlled Organisation (CCO) there would be  possible savings as flagged in the 2015 Cranleigh report (part B). ‘In addition, the operating and capital expenditure savings from managing the storm-water assets on behalf of councils ranges between $11m and $16m for the first ten years’. (p. 41) The image above shows that the 2015-45 plan underfunded the first half decade storm-water capital spend when compared to 2009-19, 2012-22 and 2018-28. The idea that a CCO will provide savings looks like a mirage.

Business Case for Water Services: May 2015, Cranleigh Report (part B) – p. 48

Looking at past long term plans, we can see the results of voters electing different city councillors and governments with changing priorities. The Auckland experience with Watercare CCO’s future direction shows the council needs a water strategy independent of Watercare to force Watercare to change direction: the Auckland Council CCO Review ‘recommended the council create a water and wastewater strategy, which obliged Watercare to consult with its owner on water pricing and the future direction of services’. Is this depilation of future planning?

The Rotokauri storm water plans are one of the reasons the storm water budget looks ad-hoc. The ‘Rotokauri Integrated Catchment Management Plan’ is now complete and it looks more like a green belt park, which has more in common to the parks and gardens budget than traditional three waters infrastructure.


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