Southland District Council
Southland’s population is spread across many small towns. Approximately 29,613 people live in an area of 30,198 square kilometres, with 5,000 kilometres of roads.
Both the infrastructure and the populations of these small towns is ageing, and people are facing an increasingly tough financial environment.
Provision of infrastructure is the biggest challenge the Council and its ratepayers face. Current expenditure proportions are 51% on roads and footpaths, 7% on wastewater, 6% on water supply, 4% on solid waste and 1% on stormwater. This represents 69% of all expenditure.
The current model for sharing costs between land use sectors tries to measure tonnage moved across the district’s roads. Council has investigated other ways of sharing the cost of maintaining these roads and is proposing a model which has three components:
Information about infrastructure
The Council is planning to invest in improved information on assets’ condition and performance, in order to push out asset renewals as much as possible.
Stage One of the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail was opened in November 2014. This stage was mostly funded by the Government as part of the Prime Minister’s Quick Start project and cost $4.58 million to complete.
Stage Two (from Mossburn to Walter Peak) is now underway. This stage is projected to cost $4.77 million and has been underwritten by the Council. The trail is expected to offer considerable long term benefits to the communities and should be fully completed by December 2015.
Invercargill City Council
As in Southland, Invercargill’s population is ageing. The proportion of the community that is aged over 65 will increase from 16% in 2013 to 25% in 2033.
Invercargill’s issues include the need to improve air quality, ageing infrastructure and drinking water security.
A high percentage of the stormwater network, and the oldest parts of the sewerage network, are more than 100 years old. This is the assumed economic life of both types of pipes. The Council plans to improve the quality of its data on infrastructure, recognising that it is difficult to accurately assess the condition of the Council’s underground utilities.
Environment Southland is putting rules in place that will improve air quality in the Invercargill airshed. This will mean that households will need to move to more efficient and cleaner forms of heating. However (given the climate!) the Council needs to ensure that its residents do not suffer in winter if they can no longer heat their homes with coal or wood.
Council and Environment Southland will each contribute $500,000 per annum to a pool of loan funds for a three-year trial period. People who take up the home heating assistance programme would be obliged to repay the loan via regular repayments. These repayments would then be added to the loan pool, allowing other people to participate.
Drinking water security
Invercargill has only one source of drinking water, the Oreti River at Branxlhome. Should this be disrupted, the City would be left with only two and a half days’ supply of water. The Council would like to have an alternative source as a back up for emergencies but the estimated $10 million cost is not affordable on top of increased expenditure on more critical infrastructure renewals.
Information sources: The information in this article was sourced from the Long Term Plans published by Southland District Council and Invercargill District Council.