AUCKLAND COUNCIL with George Wood
Finalising the 2012 to 2022 Long Term Plan
GEORGE WOOD is a North Shore ward councillor on the new Auckland Council.
The former three-term mayor of North Shore City lives in Forrest Hill with wife Myra.
The Super City council is in the most difficult period of time in this first three-year term. By 30 June the governing body of Mayor Len Brown and 20 councillors must finalise the first 10-year long term plan. This plan, which is in the final stages of the consultation process, needs to outline in detail the spending programmes of the Auckland Council and its seven council controlled organisations. The whole process is a huge juggling act attempting to produce a budget that satisfies the needs of an extremely diverse community.
Leading the preparation of the budget is Chief Executive Doug McKay and his Chief Financial Officer Andrew McKenzie. Within the space of two years they have merged together the financial makeup of seven legacy councils, the Auckland Regional Council and other subsidiary organisations into the large monolithic entity Auckland Council.
It is my job, as a councillor to carefully scrutinise the activities of council officers and make suggestions for changes. Overall I believe the officers are doing a good job in bringing the plan together.
The proof of the document will be the final material that is produced in the LTP document and ultimately the quality of the value that people believe they are getting from their rate payments.
Consents to operate the North Shore wastewater network
After fifteen years of painstaking work the Environment Court has finally signed off resource consents to enable the North Shore wastewater and storm water systems to operate through to 2046. The North Shore is the first area of the Auckland region to achieve a new operating consent and this reflects the high environmental standards that the people of the North Shore demanded in relation to the condition of the beach water around our shoreline. No other of the former legacy council areas have even really started the long and arduous process that a council must undergo to obtain this operating consent.
For me this is personally a very proud moment in my time as a local body politician. It is also a wonderful time to reflect on the hard work that was put into the upgrade by people like Councillors Bruce Lilly and Dr Joel Cayford who served as chairman of the Infrastructure and Environment committee whilst I was mayor. Council staff lead by Geoff Mason also did sterling work in the management of the upgrade programme.
There were also many members of the North Shore community who gave up a huge amount of their own time to assist North Shore Council on these upgrade projects.
Creating efficient wastewater and storm water systems requires careful planning to ensure that the large sums of money needed are invested in the most effective way. Before we could design wastewater improvement programmes we needed a good understanding of how our sewer network performs.
At one point soon after we were elected in 1998 Councillors Lilly and Cayford came with me to Sydney to gain an understanding of how that city was handling beach water quality problems. We paid for our own travel and received great assistance from Australian Water Technologies a subsidiary of Sydney Water. We brought back many innovative ideas which we used along the way to make improvements on the North Shore.
In 1998 North Shore City began using a computer model to give us a clear picture of how the wastewater system was performing and where it needed improvement. Our engineers mapped the performance of North Shore City’s trunk sewers using computer modelling techniques to reconstruct events over the past 17 years, based on meteorological records and sewer flow information gathered across the city.
By the middle of 1999, the computer model had enabled us to identify those sewers that needed improvement and served as a ‘baseline’ for on-going improvement programmes. For the first time we had credible information about the location and volumes of overflows during rainfall, and a better understanding of the major issues.
The computer model was also used to identify the sewer upgrades needed to meet the city’s growth requirements to been continually refined. This enables us today to have very clear information on the performance of the wastewater system and the areas requiring improvements.
Improvements such as the building of huge storage tanks to hold excessive wastewater and storm water during large rain events have proved extremely successful The North Shore community have also contributed in a major way by facing up to rate increases to enable this work to be undertaken. Whilst it is wonderful that the North Shore areas has improved beach water quality we still have the problem of how other areas of Auckland will be handled on the beach water front. This will be a big issue for the new Auckland Council.