At the 2016 LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards
Chorus Excellence Award for Best Practice in Infrastructure Management.
Highly Commended: Westland District Council’s “Water water everywhere. Nor any drop to drink.” (Blue Spur Water Treatment Plant Expansion Project)
The innovative Blue Spur Water Treatment Plant Expansion Project was also achieved at no extra cost to ratepayers.
Westland Milk Products has been processing milk in Hokitika since 1937 and is the district’s largest employer. It needed to upgrade its production plant to introduce infant formula production but this would mean an increase in water consumption. The company uses about two-thirds of Hokitika’s water supply, with the remaining one-third being used by residents.
The council had identified the need to upgrade the Blue Spur plant in its 2012/22 long-term plan. However as the council’s total operating budget is only $20 million per annum, with $14 million coming from rates, the project would have needed to be funded by the district’s water consumers, either through depreciation funding or debt.
However, Westland Milk Products and the council agreed it would be mutually beneficial for the company to continue to use water supplied from the existing plant. They worked collaboratively to develop a partnership agreement and work on the upgrade of the plant – with the costs being entirely met by the company.
Westland Milk Products is now one of New Zealand’s leading producers of infant nutrition ingredients and the increased processing abilities of the Hokitika plant, made possible with more treated water, will contribute significantly to the growth of Westland’s GDP.
Judges highlighted the “smart approach by a small council to secure its ongoing water supply at little cost to its community”.
This article was first published in the August 2016 issue of NZ Local Government Magazine.