Three Waters soaking up money

Of the $1.5billion of capital spending the Dunedin City Council has budgeted for the next decade, about $1billion is for transport, water, wastewater and stormwater systems.

Three years ago, councillors allocated just $878million for a decade’s entire capital programme.

The big mover is Three Waters — capital spending for 2018-28 on water, wastewater and stormwater systems was going to be $305million, but the city council’s draft 10-year plan for 2021-31 proposes $562million of such expenditure.

Some of the reasoning is mapped out in the council’s 50-year infrastructure strategy.

In the short term, upgrades are needed at water and wastewater treatment plants and in the pipes network.

Problems include cracked sewers letting in groundwater and causing overflows.

Government reforms are also expected to impose more costs.

The city council’s capital spending on roading and footpaths was to be $373million in 2018-28 and the proposed spend in 2021-31 is $440million.

The cost of renewing Dunedin’s transport network has been rising and the network has deteriorated, the council’s infrastructure strategy says.

Footpaths are in a worse condition than roads.

Just $9million was allocated in 2018-28 for waste management capital expenditure, but a revamped service could push that up by $100million in the 2021-31 plan.

One looming cost is $56million to develop the planned Smooth Hill landfill.

Comparing the 2018-28 capital spend with what is proposed in 2021-31, property goes from $65million to $225million, reserves and recreation facilities from $67million to $113million, and governance and support services from $35million to $47million.

Such figures will come under scrutiny this month.

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