wp-pipes in Wellington
Chart of the Month: Priming the pump on water asset spending

The past decade has seen infrastructure investment in our three waters heavily watered down.1 Compounding the issue, over recent years, New Zealand has had surging population growth. The lack of investment, coupled with intense demand growth, has been placing huge pressure on our pipes.

Estimates by Water NZ show that in 2018, only 1 out of 59 councils spent enough on their three waters infrastructure to cover all depreciation costs – which doesn’t leave any room to spend on increased demand pressure.

Fortunately, looking out to the next decade, forecasts from local government (and compiled by Infometrics) show a vastly improved tide of spending on water infrastructure (see Chart 1).

Forecast investment in our three waters’ infrastructure over the next decade is expected to swell 60% higher than the decade gone by, with a total $17.2b expected to be spent on our three waters’ infrastructure over the next 10 years.

However, this increase in spending might not be enough. Additional investments to cover previous depreciation, population growth, densification, and increased water standards look set to push the capital cost of water infrastructure up across New Zealand in future years.

1 The Three Waters are water supply (drinking water), sewerage (waste water), and storm water.

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