Water Reform: can we learn from others? PART 3

Tasmanian and Scottish Water Reform - is there any thing to learn here?

Representatives of Tasmania Water and the Mayor spoke to a group of Mayors on Thursday around the learnings and success of Water Reforms. The Power Point presentation was shown in 2018, and is still relavant. Find out more here on Tasmanian Water Reform

From last Thursdays conversation I took home the following key points:

  • Water reform was a disruptive process and communities initially resisted any change
  • However, over time the model delivered huge positive outcomes in water standards and economic return
  • Boil water notices and pollution events were quite common (especially in smaller communities) before reform. That is no longer the case.
  • Councils own the entity as shareholders and the Government is a 10% shareholder.
  • Taz Water now deliver dividends to the share holders (this took time as initially there were high levels of required investment).
  • Tasmania has  mature models of engagement with “customers” and local communities. This can influence service delivery levels (above mandated water standards).

This model is worth further consideration due to its shared ownership and strong community voice.

Read what the Tasmanian Audit Office says about Tasmanian Water Reform as well as the findings of the Tasmanian Economic Regulator

It is well known that the Scottish Water commission has influenced the water reform proposals for NZ. This is not just because Scotland underwent huge reform, but WICS ( Water Industry Commission for Scotland) are  internationally renowned water experts

In 2002, a single publicly owned water corporation was formed through the merger of the West, East and North Scotland Water Authorities. This statutory authority was named Scottish Water and is 100% owned by the Scottish Government. 

  • Since Water Reform in 2002 and the significant investment that followed, there have been significant gains in environmental and public health benefits. 
  • By 2008 operating cost have been reduced from £460million to £268 million, an almost 40% reduction. ·
  •  By 2012, 99.88% of drinking water quality samples complied with the quality standards. By 2013, leakage has been reduced to 575MLD from 1146 MLD in 2002, a reduction of 50% ·
  •  By 2013 the number of wastewater treatment plants failing to meet the relevant UK and EU standards has been reduced from 78 to 2 out of a total of 1800.
  •  By 2014 the number of bathing waters meeting the mandatory bathing water quality standard has also increased from 31 out of 60 (51% compliance) to 71 out of 83 (86% compliance). 
  • There has been over £1 billion in environmental control measures alone service 2002 and a further £600 million is planned between 2015-2021. Total investment is running at £500 million.

Read more about Scottish Water here and a good summary by Harrison Grierson Consultants The Glide Path for Water Reform - Scottish Water

New Zealand is  not Scotland, nor Tasmania, but we can learn from them, and potentially propose changes to what the Government currently has on the table. I am particularly interested in the shareholding model, customer interface, roles of local councils and communities plus environmental and social outcomes. It seems undeniable that reforms have brought clear cost benefits and improvements in drinking and  wastewater standards. 

I am aware that while Hamilton does a great job but we are not perfect. We, sadly, have had minor spills into our river. Meanwhile "boil water" notices and other pollution issues are not rare across New Zealand, and affect many places (including, no doubt, some of our favourite holiday spots).
Frankly we are making slow progress around raising water quality in our river and our lake.

Read more about Hamilton City Council Water Services.

This blog is PART 3 of 4 blogs to help share information and inspire community conversation. See the others on my website.

Hamilton Waste Water

What you flush ends up here!

Hamilton Waste Water - What you flush ends up here!


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