Jon Lamonte announced as new Watercare chief executive, to make nearly $200,000 less than predecessor

The incoming chief executive of Auckland's Watercare will make nearly $200,000 less a year than his predecessor.

Jon Lamonte was announced on Tuesday as the new chief executive of Watercare and will take on the role in April after finishing his current work as the head of Sydney Metro, a rapid transit network in the Australian city. 

Watercare chair Margaret Devlin says Lamonte brings a "wealth of experience" to the role from his time at Sydney Metro as well as from his "extensive executive career".

"The Board and I look forward to working with Jon as we embark upon the next stage of Watercare’s journey, which includes the delivery of an $8b capital programme over the next ten years, the response to the ongoing drought, and the national water reform programme."

Lamonte, who says he feels "extremely privileged" to join the Watercare team and is "excited to come to New Zealand and forge a new life in Auckland", will receive a salary of $585,000.

That is nearly $200,000 less than the widely-criticised salary of his predecessor, Raveen Jaduram, who made $775,000. He was the highest paid Auckland Council executive, making 30 percent more than that Council's chief executive. 

A statement from Watercare said Lamonte's salary was "in line with council policy that chief executive salaries across the council-controlled organisations be set lower than previous incumbents and the Council CEO".

Jaduram stepped down last August while Auckland was in the middle of its worst drought in decades and Watercare was under immense pressure to respond. Prior to his resignation, $224 million in emergency spending was approved to boost the city's water supply. 

Many water restrictions first introduced in May last year remain in effect, including a ban on sprinklers and drip hoses. In December, residential water users were allowed to again use hoses as long as they were fitted with trigger nozzles.

As of Tuesday, dams are 57.94 percent full, still well down on the 80.9 percent normal for this time of the year. The target for Aucklanders in the first half of March is to consume 485 million litres of water or less each day. On Monday, 424 million litres was consumed with a seven-day rolling average of 448 million litres.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said on Thursday that Lamonte has had "an impressive career and brings to his new role considerable experience as a Chief Executive and leader, and skills in managing large scale enterprises and operations".

The incoming chief executive served in the Falklands, Yugoslavia and Iraq with the Royal Air Force and was previously the chief executive of Tubelines in London, looking after underground lines in the city during the 2012 Olympics.

Devlin said Marlon Bridge would stay as acting chief executive of Watercare until Lamonte's arrival on April 6.

"Given the current Covid-19 environment, there may be a period of time where Jon will carry out his role whilst remaining offshore.  Watercare and Jon are working together to minimise this period.  And as COVID-19 has taught us all, we can and do adapt to situations such as these.

 “Once Jon arrives in New Zealand, we will be arranging a number of meetings for stakeholders to meet with him."