The results of an independent study on urban water infrastructure were released last week.  The study, commissioned by the Council for Infrastructure Development and Water New Zealand and written by Pricewaterhouse Coopers and GHD, reaches the same overall conclusions about how to improve the management, regulation and governance of water infrastructure as those drawn by the Treasury in the 2011 National Infrastructure Plan. These recommendations are presently being pursued by the Government in its Fresh Start for Fresh Water and Better Local Government reforms and work programmes.

Specifically, the study highlighted the following issues:

  • the lack of a central agency or single Minister responsible for urban water services; and
  • the fact that water services are provided by a number of local authorities of varying size and capacity who face considerable competing demands for funding.

The recommendations made in the study include:

  • increasing scale and improving strategic focus through amalgamation, integration, and shared service arrangements;
  • developing aligned national, regional and local standards in the provision of water services;
  • benchmarking and reporting across the industry; and
  • developing and adopting best practice in investment appraisal and procurement decision making frameworks, consistent with Treasury’s Better Business Case model.

Background documents to the study and the full report can be accessed here.