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Waikato Herald - 2021-11-26

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Waipa¯ and Otorohanga¯ will work together on water issues

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Waipā District Council and Ō torohanga District Council have announced they will be working together on water infrastructure improvements to save costs on future water works. The decision to enter a joint project agreement for the next three financial years was made last Tuesday. Project delivery manager Peter Thomson said the agreement creates an opportunity for collaboration, achieving greater value for money and financial efficiencies, and has been carefully prepared to protect the financial interests of each council in the joint arrangement. “The relationship will help us provide greater resilience in infrastructure delivery by sharing resources. The large workload will be better managed over the next three financial years by allowing a contractor to manage the delivery in line with their resourcing availability.” Under the joint agreement, the councils commit to cost-sharing and cost allocation on a fair basis of management roles and charge-out rates, where services are carried out for respective council works. The basis of the agreement is that the councils will work together to jointly obtain and manage the watermain renewals contract across the two districts. Both councils have significant work programmes planned over the next three years to improve water, stormwater, and wastewater networks. Waipā District’s ageing infrastructure water main renewals are expected to cost in the vicinity of $10 million over the next three years, and Ō torohanga District’s water main renewal budgets are approximately $1.7m over the three-year period. The councils will now work on finalising a Watermain Renewal Contract and procurement documents for tendering in late 2021, with a view to start early next year. The contract period will continue through to mid2024 which coincides with the Government’s notified transition period of the Three Water Reforms. Waipā Mayor Jim Mylchreest said the collaboration with Ō torohanga District Council makes good economic sense: “It will give us more efficiency. We have always worked together with our neighbours on all kinds of issues.” He made clear that the two councils haven’t decided on the joint agreement because of the Three Waters Reform. “If the Three Waters Reform goes ahead which is currently by no means certain, the fact that Ō torohanga and Waipā are already collaborating will be good . . . [because] we will be in the same entity. [The collaboration] won’t be affected by [the reform]. “The work with Otorohanga ¯ District Council is not unlimited [and] will be for the duration of our Long Term Plans . . . The Three Waters Reform is a massive reorganisation [project] and will take years until completed.” Waipā District Council group manager service delivery Dawn Inglis said the agreement will enable better infrastructure delivery in a challenging market. “This collaboration will result in cost-savings through financial efficiencies and sharing of resources and materials, increased levels of service and customer satisfaction and better delivery of water services. “Both councils have a commitment to employ and train local people, so this will not only be an improvement in creating a larger package of work which is more attractive to the market, but also a chance to positively influence the local job market.”

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