Confidence in the safety of the Hastings drinking water supply is increasing since the Havelock North campylobacter outbreak, a new internal council report says.
After the release of recommendations prompted by Stage 2 of the Havelock North water inquiry, the council commissioned an independent review of the water services team, which led to a water services change programme that began in June last year.
The programme identified actions that needed to take place around risk management, increased staff numbers, improving and developing the team culture, more rigorous monitoring and testing, and enhancing relationships with key partners and stakeholders such as the Hawke's Bay DHB, Hawke's Bay Regional Council, Ngati Kahungunu and relevant government agencies.
In a final report on the change programme, which will be presented to the council on Monday next week, programme manager Rachel Landon said that in the past year significant progress had been made, but there was still work to be done.
As part of a restructure, 12 new staff positions within the water services team had been created, with nine of those filled and the rest in the process.
During the Government's water inquiry the effectiveness of relationships between the Hastings District Council and other local authorities was criticised and this was also being addressed, Landon said.
"Since the crisis the water services team are interacting much more frequently with industry networks. In particular, there has been a marked increase with contact at Water NZ, Wellington Water and locally with the other territorial and regional authorities in Hawke's Bay."
In addition, an extended monitoring regime would provide confidence that the water supply was being managed well and trends or issues detected early so appropriate action could be taken, Landon said.
Risk management measures had also been developed, but further work was needed to prepare the council to respond to emergency incidents - including for the wastewater and stormwater networks.
Over the past year an industrial psychologist had been working with the team to help them move out of "crisis" mode to the "new normal" focused on delivering the council's water strategy, she said.
This was also highlighted by the review team, comprising independent consultants Bruce Robertson and Ross Waugh, and senior project adviser to the council Neil Taylor.
In their final report to the council, which will also be tabled on Monday, they said the water services team had "progressed well beyond the previously observed crisis mode actions and behaviours" and that the culture demonstrated a "collegial problem solving approach and good communications paths".
Significant improvements had also been made in the use of technology, information systems, documentation, reporting and recording. This provided a good platform to safely, efficiently and effectively operate and manage the municipal water supply networks.
"Resulting from these improvements the Hastings District Council is also well positioned to respond to any further legislative or regulatory changes that might be required as the Government responds to the recommendations of the Havelock North water inquiry."
They noted, however, that ongoing work was needed to improve some areas of documentation, processes, operating procedures, risk management practices and risk mitigation and reporting.
The resources to do this had been provided and had been incorporated into future planning, which gave confidence that this would be achieved, their report concluded.
Meanwhile work was continuing on physical works to upgrade the water network infrastructure including the $10 million project to lay pipe over 4.8km from Sylvan Rd in Hastings to Napier Rd in Havelock North, via St Aubyn St, Windsor Ave, Howard St, St George's Rd and Crosses Rd.
A council spokesperson said significant progress had been made on the project, which was on track to be completed by the end of the year.
While the work continued, the council had launched a "Plan Your Journey" campaign encouraging motorists to go to the council website, which identified where roadworks were happening so alternative routes could be taken.
"We recognise that this major project is having an impact and hope this information will help people avoid the roadworks."