The results of a binding referendum will decide if the
Dunedin City Council relinquishes ownership of a $2.1 million
rural Otago water scheme for just $1.
Councillors at Monday's full council meeting agreed to
proceed with a referendum later this year that will decide
the future ownership of the Rocklands rural water scheme.
The scheme is owned by the council and used to supply
drinking water mainly to livestock, as well as some homes and
shearers' quarters, in the Rocklands area, south of
However, its ownership status had been disputed by users, and
a sale would also allow the council to avoid the cost of
upgrading it to meet higher drinking water standards
introduced in 2007.
Farmers in the Rocklands area built the scheme in 1984, in
conjunction with the then Silverpeaks County Council and with
some government funding, but the city council took ownership
with amalgamation in 1989.
It was the smallest of the city's water schemes, supplying 12
farms and 55 people, but the largest by land area, with 78km
Users had been seeking changes to governance and ownership
arrangements since 2005, prompting a move by the council to
consult affected people about changes in late 2011.
A report by council project manager Sarah Stewart to Monday's
meeting said consultation was now complete, and scheme
members had voted unanimously in favour of a transfer.
However, a binding referendum needed to show 50% or more of
scheme members and landowners supplied by it were in favour
of the transfer, before the change could be confirmed.
The scheme could then be transferred for $1 - a nominal sum
required for legal reasons, which reflected the fact the
users had already paid to build and maintain the scheme, she
said in an earlier report.
The scheme had been operating under a boil-water notice since
2009, but, if transferred, individual homeowners could add
filters to ensure water to their homes was suitable, Mrs
Stewart's latest report said.
That would avoid the cost of an upgrade of the entire scheme
to provide water largely consumed by sheep and cattle, she
The referendum was expected to run from mid-April to May 9,
and, if results were in favour, the transfer would occur on
The council would also retain first right of refusal to buy
the scheme back.