Government Bill may help Aucklanders avoid Watercare's potential 25.8 pct water rates hike

Watercare has flagged a potential 25.8 percent water rates hike could be coming in July, but the Government might introduce legislation to avoid that.

The water rates hike was outlined in Auckland Council's Long Term Plan and Watercare's board of directors approved a potential price rise in January.

It would see the cost of water and wastewater services go up by 25.8 percent on July 1, board chair Margaret Devlin said.

"This increase could also apply to infrastructure growth charges."

Devlin said, "in agreeing to the potential price rise, the Board had to balance the vital need to invest in new water and wastewater infrastructure - ensuring safe and reliable water and wastewater services for Auckland - with council’s directives to maintain a debt-to-revenue ratio of 340 percent and to ensure that growth funds growth".

She said she knew Aucklanders were struggling with the cost of living and wanted to assure them that central and local government wanted to avoid significant price rises for Auckland.

"They are working together to achieve a financially sustainable water model," she said.

Local Government Minister Simeon Brown said work was being done to "ensure affordable charges for Aucklanders".

"Cabinet has agreed a path which will enable any required legislative changes for a financially sustainable model for Watercare to be included in the Transitional Provisions Bill."

He said the Bill would pass through Parliament in the middle of this year.