There is no greater imperative for Porirua and the Wellington region than ensuring a safe, reliable and abundant water supply over the long term. If you add to the consequences of decades of underinvestment in critical infrastructure the dual challenges of population growth and climate change, local and national leaders have no time to waste – and we cannot afford to get this wrong.
When the region’s mayors got together earlier in the month to discuss the way forward on water, there was unanimous recognition that existing infrastructure and water management practices are no longer sustainable. We agreed that losing roughly 45 per cent of this precious resource to leaky pipes is totally unacceptable – and that only by bolstering infrastructure, harnessing innovative technologies, and managing demand, can we secure a water supply capable of meeting future needs and withstanding seasonal fluctuations.
Beyond upgrading pipes in the ground to reduce waste through leakage, sustainability also demands we don’t waste what we’re already treating and supplying through our system. That means water meters. We’ve seen in Kāpiti and elsewhere that meters have proven to be really effective at reducing waste at the household level. It’s a disruptive change that alters the way we distribute the cost of water, but evidence shows it can actually reduce the burden for water-efficient households and businesses. It’s past time to bite the bullet on water meters.
Since summer demand can strain our supply, we’re also considering the addition of storage lakes to serve as reliable backup sources during dry spells. This is a longer term solution, will take time to implement, and is extremely costly.
These are not either/or options. We will need metering, short term investment in our existing water infrastructure and longer term investment in storage.
To do this we need urgent action in the form of investment from central government to support infrastructure upgrades. That’s the case whatever the outcome of the election. This isn’t a case of left or right – it’s about whether we go forward into a secure, sustainable future or fall even further behind while the costs of inaction pile ever higher. The stakes are just too high and the solutions too obvious to defer action any longer.
10 Oct 2023