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Be part of the process

Op-Ed from Mayor Helen Lash

There has been a lot of chatter on Social Media, questions to Councillors and unfortunately abuse of staff on the street in relation to this year's proposed Annual Plan.

I would like to take the time to make some things around the plan clearer.

Under the Government’s Local Water Done Well policy, Councils now retain ownership and control of their drinking water, stormwater and wastewater (3 Waters) assets. This means the Council must continue to maintain and replace all of the water pipes, treatment plants, stormwater drains and all the other equipment that goes into providing 3 Waters and meeting the compliance requirements of the Water Regulator.

Council regularly invests in replacing these components and has also invested in new plants and equipment across all 3 Waters activities. This is funded through depreciation, ensuring that Council has funds to replace these assets at the end of their useful life. The Council has implemented a programme to improve its information about the age and maintenance of the assets; having accurate information about the assets means that they can be valued appropriately. Newer assets have a higher value, which has a flow-on effect on the amount of depreciation we need to collect. Higher value assets and increased costs of maintenance and replacement of parts increase the amount of depreciation that the Council must collect from ratepayers through rates.

Of the $3.8 million in additional rates that the Council proposes to collect in the draft Annual Plan, $3.1 million is for 3 Waters depreciation. This figure reflects last year’s decision not to fund depreciation on these assets, which provided relief for ratepayers at the time.

The cost increase in these activities is also influenced by our statutory requirements. Since 2022, the amount of testing and monitoring required for drinking water networks under the Drinking Water Quality Assurance Rules (DWQAR) has increased, with compliance regulations around wastewater and stormwater yet to be implemented. Not only are more samples required from a wider distribution of the network, but what is being sampled has increased, for example, metals and by-products of the treatment process. As this table shows, the Council must now take almost twice as many samples of the drinking water system, which comes at an increased operational cost of over 400% compared to pre-DWQAR.

Sample Location

Samples Required pre DWQAR (Number)

Samples Required to Comply with DWQAR (Number)

Source Water



Treatment Plant



Distribution Zone




3532 (864 of these are now required to be continuously monitored)


To continue to meet our obligations, both to the government and the local community, we must fund these activities responsibly.

So, instead of being a keyboard warrior on Social Media, get your view in front of the Council by making a submission. To date, we have only received 11 formal submissions but we know that there are many people in the community who have an opinion about the proposals in the Plan. We want to hear from you all! A Council can only make the best decisions when we hear from you, the community; and although we get to talk to many of you, it isn’t all of you.

There are many ways to make your submission: you can submit online on our website, send an email to, collect a hard-copy submission form from the Customer Service Centre in Hokitika or even give us a call and one of our friendly Customer Service staff will take you through the submission and record your views.


Media enquiries to:

Helen Lash, Westland District Mayor