Napier City Council and Hawke's Bay Regional Council have vowed to work more closely together in managing the city's stormwater system following a recent report about last year's floods.
Napier's stormwater assets - comprising of 241km of pipe network, 10 pump stations and two detention dams - are owned and operated either jointly or separately by both NCC and the regional council.
Roles and responsibilities are currently shared across both with maintenance, management, operations and ownership of land, structures and detention ponds differing depending on the area.
The regional council owns seven of 16 stormwater assets but is responsible for the operation of only six, while NCC owns nine and operates 10.
In some cases, one council holds a contract to operate or maintain an asset owned by the other council.
For example, the Kenny Rd pump station is a rural drainage pump station owned and operated by HBRC.
HBRC's responsibility is to ensure that its parts of the stormwater network, some of the large open drains and pump stations, are of sufficient capacity to meet the required level of service.
As the surrounding Te Awa suburb has grown, more infrastructure has been required to service these new households with the city council responsible for ensuring utility services are responsive to urban development.
Either through being delivered by the developer as part of their consent or via a financial contribution made by the developer for common infrastructure installed by a council.
Te Awa's plan includes the Te Awa stormwater detention pond owned and managed by NCC, and HBRC's Kenny Rd pump station which will be replaced with a new high-capacity pump station when the development trigger for this has been met.
Until then, there is an agreed operating approach for Kenny Rd pump station that includes overflow to NCC's Cross Country drain under appropriate conditions.
The councils will explore four co-management options in the coming months, ahead of changes in the management of water through Three Waters reforms in 2024.
Mayor Kirsten Wise said it would be better to make clearer who had responsibility for what, who owns which part of the network and who is accountable if there are any challenges.
"At an operational, day-to-day level we have always worked well together, we want to streamline and formalise that," she said.
The councils are currently analysing how to best co-manage their stormwater assets to improve service delivery along with a significant investment to increase Napier's stormwater capacity.
This includes a review of the Napier Meeanee Drainage Scheme by HBRC to understand the current level of performance, and the level of needed expansion to support growth, the impact of climate change and appropriate services levels.
This will contribute to a new 30-year investment strategy for the scheme to meet future requirements.
NCC has also already undertaken a similar review, committing $85 million expenditure on the stormwater network over the next 10 years in its 2021-31 long-term plan (LTP).
Regional councillor Neil Kirton recently hit out at both councils, saying it was incorrect for them to claim Napier's stormwater network worked as it was designed to.
A recent report released on the anniversary of the flood found the stormwater assets performed as they were designed to, acknowledging the pipes were not designed to convey the volume of water that fell during this event.
Kirton disputed the findings of this report, saying that when considering the performance of each individual element of the stormwater network, it showed a "pattern of operational inefficiency, poor maintenance and a lack of reasonable planning".
"I agree that the stormwater system is likely to have been overwhelmed.
"However, extensive damage to dozens of properties would have been avoided if the system had been operating at its actual available capacity."
Both HBRC and NCC declined to respond directly to Kirton's claims, but in response to questions from Hawke's Bay Today reiterated the need to increase the city's stormwater capacity had been identified.
Work was under way on how to do this, including investing in more modern equipment to remotely control and diagnose pump station operations.