The capital city of New Zealand, Wellington, is struggling to provide enough water to meet demand, meaning water restrictions during the upcoming summer are almost inevitable.
A report by Wellington Water told local councils that due to limited funding, it was unable to sufficiently maintain its aging water infrastructure, with many assets already beyond the nominal end-of-life.
It highlighted the sheer number of leaks as the primary reason for the increasing water demand.
“We are currently seeing daily water use similar to levels we would normally only expect in summer,” it said.
Due to limited funding, the company said its priority had been shifted towards reactive maintenance away from planned maintenance, which had “not been ideal.”
“We are placing pressure on reactive maintenance budgets this year to release funding for key planned maintenance activities to continue,” it said.
Wellington Water also noted that New Zealand businesses were facing acute labour shortages and that there would be future wage pressures as inflation rises.
“We are thinking very carefully about how to retain our staff,” it said.
Earlier in March, the company said it was unable to reach its own target of having no sewage discharges.
Centralised Water ReformIt comes as the central government is making a major push to centralise the entire nation’s water resources to be managed by four publicly owned water entities.
The Ardern administration argues that “historic underinvestment” by local councils, stricter water safety and environmental regulations, and the need to account for public growth had led to the proposal.
Oliver Hartwich, the executive director of the New Zealand Initiative think tank, told The Epoch Times that the central government in Wellington accounted for over 90 percent of the taxes collected in the country, meaning local councils lacked tax funds to address local issues.
“It would be much better if … we had strong local communities and local income taxes so the communities can actually plan for the stuff that they need,” he said.