New water regs: ORC may need up to 50 more staff

The Otago Regional Council building in Dunedin. PHOTO: ODT FILES
The Otago Regional Council building in Dunedin. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Pressure from proposed government regulations could create the need for up to 50 extra Otago Regional Council staff and put further pressure on the organisation's accommodation.

Regional council staff in Dunedin are spread between four locations in a mixture of buildings it owns and offices it leases.

The council has said proposed Ministry for the Environment legislation on freshwater could mean it will need a further 30 to 50 staff.

Council chief executive Sarah Gardner said with the pending changes from Government, it expected to need additional accommodation in the next 12 months in Dunedin "and more than likely also in Central Otago, as our offices in Alexandra and Cromwell are at capacity".

No decisions were made yet on whether new accommodation would be bought or leased.

The council had also not progressed work on any particular options for a new headquarters in the past couple of months, she said.

"At this point we are waiting for the new council to be sworn in, and plan to discuss the building soon in the new term."

She could not provide more specific details on the search or the rates impact of more staff and accommodation until the issues were discussed with the new council, she said.

Cr Gretchen Robertson said the council was given a clear message from urban and rural communities it needed to do more.

"Communities want presence, better information/science, more support for community initiatives and action to improve waterway health.

"This may mean more staff or it may mean investment in partnerships."

Government wants more too.

"I don't know how that looks in terms of staff needed across the organisation. Water is not our only key responsibility.

"Existing headquarters are already well beyond capacity, councillors and many key staff already meet and work off site."

Cr Bryan Scott said the organisation needed to think whether it really needed more staff or to "work smarter".

"A time of considered thinking is required. There are so many groups doing work in the community; we need to think how we get our community to work with us."

In terms of the headquarters, it would be good to have a new council to "have a fresh look".

"The reality is the council has dropped the ball in regards to a new building. Between us we can come up with something all our councillors are behind."

The newly-elected council will sit next Wednesday and appoint a chairman.


Ever expanding government through regulations that adds zero value, just increases our taxes/rates. Use subbies to track down the polluters and get them to pay for their deeds. No need for a new HQ if they use their thinking caps.

No need for New HQ and don't let Gretchen Robertson tell you otherwise. She's just power building with our money. Why is she even making a comment before the first meeting?

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter