Heather du Plessis-Allan: Councils, not immigrants, to blame for water crisis

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Wed, 26 Feb 2020, 4:18PM
Auckland's water supply is struggling - council needs to get onto the problem. (Photo / Watercare)

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Councils, not immigrants, to blame for water crisis

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Wed, 26 Feb 2020, 4:18PM

We’ve got a big problem with water around this country, and we’re seeing it really hit home at the moment.

Now, there have been some pretty whacky arguments mounted today, blaming goodness me, even immigrants for Auckland’s water crisis. That’s too silly even to get into.

The real problem is councils not spending enough. Not just in Auckland but around the country.

I’m in Wellington today and water’s a problem here too. Its’ a problem in Northland. It’s a problem in Hawke’s Bay.

A lot of these problems are avoidable if councils just pulled their socks up, did their actual jobs, and fixed the infrastructure.

So, let’s look at Auckland. Aucklanders are now being asked to limit showers to four minutes, not rinse dishes before they go in the dishwasher, and replace thirsty plants with cacti.

What’s the problem? The last time we built a new dam was in the 1960s. Since then, the population’s tripled and the authorities haven’t built the infrastructure to handle that.

Guess what? The population’s going to keep increasing, build another dam.

In Wellington, the problem is the pipes. They’re falling apart. In the street we live in Wellington, we had water running out of the road for well over a year before the council managed to fix it. One neighbour had sewage flowing under her house for possibly years, again because of a broken pipe.

There was poo in wellington harbour, poo in Owhiro Bay… because of bad pipes. 20 per cent of drinking water never reaches taps.  1000 pipes were leaking before Christmas. Every summer there are water restrictions

The problem? Some of those pipes were laid during the depression and haven’t been replaced. 

This can’t go on. Councils need to get on with it and fix our water infrastructure problems. We can’t do this every summer

And before they even start with their regular nonsense about how they can’t afford to, yes they can. Just last week, ratings agency S&P put out a report saying councils can take more debt as debt is cheap at the moment.

Ratepayers deserve better. And quite frankly, I get a bit tired of all the other things councils like to do. How about councils forget about their te reo policies and their rainbow road crossings and their art installations and just do their basic jobs? Water is one of them.