Wellington Water under pump due to poor condition of network assets

While Wellington Water falls short of the capital, other councils in the area say they run the water company very well because they spend more.

File photo.
Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

So far this quarter, there are 1.8 sewage overflows for every 1,000 sewer connections in the city of Wellington, according to the latest figures.

This is against a target of zero – set by the city council – which Wellington Water says is not achievable given the poor condition of network assets.

Councilor Sean Rush, who chairs the infrastructure committee, asked why this was not feasible and said he would question Wellington Water at Wednesday’s infrastructure meeting.

“We recommended over a period of time to look at eliminating managed overflows, preventing sewage from entering the stormwater system,” he said.

“And that was considered by our officers to be the first thing you could do.”

Wellington Water fails to achieve other key performances, such as taking almost three times as long to attend certain interventions.

It is supposed to take one hour from first notification to when service personnel arrive on site for sewage issues.

Instead, it takes an average of 168 minutes.

“I’m obviously not happy with the performance as it is,” said Jenny Condie, councilor and vice-chair of the infrastructure committee.

“But I’m also realistic that it will take us some time for this organization to come to grips with the issues that have been developing for a long time.”

Councilor Diane Calvert said another inquiry should be made into the effectiveness of Wellington Water, but the council also needed to look at itself “to make sure we are doing everything possible, to make sure we don’t have no shortcomings or weaknesses”.

Calvert said the council needs to sort its water, “not the bike lanes and railroad crossings.”

Wellington Water is jointly owned by Hutt, Porirua, Upper Hutt and Wellington Town Councils, South Wairarapa District Council and Greater Wellington Regional Council.

When Porirua Mayor Anita Baker walked into the chambers, the town had similar infrastructure issues.

She said problems remained, but things are much better now after changing the council’s budget.

“I screamed and screamed when I arrived, and said they were doing a terrible job, and [Wellington Water] goes ‘actually, it’s what you pay us – we can’t do what you want us to do with the budget,'” Baker said.

“Now we have really good tight deadlines, all of our water is being fixed quickly on schedule, that’s great.”

In Lower Hutt, Mayor Campbell Barry agreed Wellington Water had done a good job, but it was a long game.

“Service levels are pretty good, there are still improvements to be made to address leaks and other issues we have in our city and community, but it’s been a growing problem for some time,” he said. -he declares.

Wellington Water’s customer operations group manager, Kevin Locke, said he was working with Wellington City Council (WCC) on solutions.

“WCC and Wellington Water will continue to work together to achieve the goal by investing in more pipe replacements, flushing the system more regularly and running education campaigns.”

The people of Wellington also have a role to play in the water company’s shortcomings.

Sewage overflows in dry weather are caused by blockages in the system – by people putting things they shouldn’t in the toilet.

Only three things should be flushed down the toilet: pee, poop and (toilet) paper.

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