Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Stormwater bill may limit green ambitions

Auckland faces a $9.9 billion bill to bring the flood-prone stormwater system up to scratch and cope with growth over the next 50 years. Photo / Thinkstock
Auckland faces a $9.9 billion bill to bring the flood-prone stormwater system up to scratch and cope with growth over the next 50 years. Photo / Thinkstock

Auckland Mayor Len Brown has promised to turn the Super City into an eco-city, but is pegging back spending on the city's rundown and flood-prone stormwater system.

Before the global financial crisis the seven former territorial councils budgeted $105 million a year on stormwater.

Mr Brown's 10-year budget contains between $65 million and $85 million a year on stormwater.

At Tuesday's launch of the Auckland Plan - a 30-year blueprint for the Super City - Mr Brown said a key issue was a strong commitment to environmental action and green growth.

The city faces a mammoth $9.9 billion bill to bring the stormwater system up to scratch and cope with growth over the next 50 years - a job officials say will take 200 years at current levels of spending.

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

Asked if he was matching his words with actions, Mr Brown said the council was dealing with stormwater responsibly and balancing potential risk and cost to ratepayers appropriately.

Mr Brown said when comparing actual rather than budgeted spending on stormwater, spending by the Auckland Council differed little from the former councils.

He also said the council body Watercare Services was building an $800 million pipeline to parts of west and central Auckland, although it is a wastewater project with the stormwater components paid for by the council.

A council report last September said stormwater spending in the 10-year budget was to reach the former councils' pre-financial crisis budget level of $105 million in four years and increase to $180 million in 2018-2019.

Last night, chief finance officer Andrew McKenzie said he did not know where the $180 million figure for 2018-2019 came from. The budget of $65 million to $85 million over 10 years was reasonable, deliverable and fitted with what the council was trying to achieve, he said.

Councillor Cameron Brewer said Mr Brown was not ramping up spending on stormwater as much as he should be.

He said that instead of spending more on stormwater - a core council business - Mr Brown was spending ratepayers' money on extending the failed Wynyard Quarter trams and turning Quay St into a promenade.

HOMES AT RISK OF FLOODING

* $9.9 billion to fix stormwater over 50 years
* 7850 homes at risk of flooding
* $105m a year budgeted by former councils
* $65m to $85m a year budgeted by the Auckland Council.

- NZ Herald

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