Raveen Jaduram Director of the Infrastructure Commission and previous CEO of Watercare was our guest speaker at our last meeting. 
Raveen provided an interesting insight into the complex issues facing Auckland’s Watercare and those involved in the proposed 3 Waters legislation. In the case of Watercare it was clear that as an infrastructure entity that had to be consolidated into the accounts of the overall Auckland Council that funding issues for development would likely go on into the future. On the 3 Waters legislation he concluded that if the country wanted the right answer in terms of structure and control of water resources politicians should be asking the correct questions on what the current problems are. 
The issues with Watercare which manifested themselves in Auckland suffering a long period of water rationing are complex and partly relate to the way in which the CCO is integrated with Auckland Council. Although as an infrastructure company it has a vast network of assets valued at over $12B that could be used to fund much needed future development it cannot use this asset base effectively (currently debt levels are a mere 15% of the asset value). The reason for this is that as owner of the CCO Auckland Council needs to consolidate Watercare into its Annual Accounts. Having done this Auckland Council is then not able to use the asset base as its debt ceiling is related to the annual rate revenue. A complete mismatch for funding an infrastructure entity.

The issues for future development of NZ water resources again are complex and diverse as some areas have poor quality and others have infrastructure that is in disrepair. However once again today’s problems mostly have their origins in funding. Currently the proposed legislation does not even specify who will own the assets that would be transferred out of 64 territorial authorities across the nation. In Raveen’s opinion the politicians have not even been asking the right questions and the proposed legislation is so mixed up with service issues and political agenda’s that is hard to get clarity of the real issues.

Overall, an interesting and informative insight into one of New Zealand’s critical resources.