Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Auckland Council cuts 'optimistic' stormwater budget

Len Brown has spoken out about cleaning up stormwater to help make Auckland an eco-city. Photo / Thinkstock
Len Brown has spoken out about cleaning up stormwater to help make Auckland an eco-city. Photo / Thinkstock

The Auckland Council has cut spending on stormwater.

Faced with a mammoth $9.9 billion bill to fix the stormwater system over the next 50 years, the council has cut capital spending from $80 million to $65 million this financial year.

This is $40 million less than the $105 million the former councils spent on stormwater before some of them cut back spending during the economic crisis.

Mayor Len Brown has spoken out about doing more to protect and restore Auckland's environment, including cleaning up stormwater to help make Auckland an eco-city.

Stormwater unit manager Grant Ocklestone said the budget was reduced to $65 million after assessing whether the new council could deliver on all the projects from the former councils and funding needs within the council. Council officers deferred $400 million of capital works in this year's budget, which helped Mr Brown achieve a 3.9 per cent rates rise.

Chief finance officer Andrew McKenzie said the $80 million figure was too optimistic for the council's first budget because of issues of transition, resource consents and the Rugby World Cup.

Environment and sustainability forum chairman Wayne Walker said he wanted the council to put "serious money" into the first 10-year budget being prepared for next year.

The proposed stormwater capital budget increases to reach the former councils' pre-financial crisis budget of $105 million in four years, before increasing to $180 million a year in 2019-2020.

A report to the environment and sustainability forum last week said it would take 200 years to fix Auckland's stormwater system at current levels of spending. The network needs $5.4 billion to bring it up to scratch and a further $4.5 billion to support population growth over the next 50 years.

About 7850 homes are at risk of flooding from a one in a 100-year storm, the Hauraki Gulf continues to suffer from sediment and contaminants, and the city faces a backlog of pipe renewals, pond de-silting and infrastructure to stop wastewater overflows.

- NZ Herald

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