Hastings District Council has agreed to raise the funds needed to complete the final stages of the Hastings Drinking Water Strategy – the construction of treatment facilities at the Frimley and Eastbourne sites and associated pipe works.
Providing safe drinking water and increasing the capacity and resilience of the network remains Council’s number one priority; as set out in its 2018 Drinking Water Strategy. The major water storage and treatment facilities at Frimley and Eastbourne (the latter subject to receiving Resource Consent) are the last major components of the strategy.
At a meeting yesterday [April 8], Hastings District councillors unanimously agreed that $6.8m would be loan-funded and $3m of Government funding would be reallocated, subject to Government approval. That would take the total cost of the project, which includes the upgrade of the eight small community supplies, new water main between Hastings and Havelock North, Havelock North pump station, upgraded water treatment across the network, and the Frimley and Eastbourne projects, to $81.9m. Of that, $14.1m had been raised from the central Government.
Councillors fully canvassed the issue, including considering whether the project should be delayed in the hope that some of the market conditions that had led to components of the increase in costs would ease. Those conditions included a severe shortage of contractors and materials, the rising costs of the required technology, and importing issues. However, given every council in New Zealand needed the same contractors and technology and that Government had set dates by which public water supplies had to reach new standards, it was decided there was no advantage to waiting. In fact, because of the market conditions, the situation could worsen. Receiving just two complying tenders for the project over two tender rounds, despite rearranging the works to make it more attractive, indicated how constricted the market is.
In a later session of the same meeting, Council agreed to accept the preferred tenderer for the project. That decision was made in a public excluded session to protect commercially sensitive information.
Prior to the meeting, Hastings District Council chief executive Mr Nigel Bickle said while cost increases were never welcome, in light of the size of the project, the timelines that must be met, and the impacts of COVID-19, they were unavoidable. “The Major Projects team has combined the key elements of the two projects to realise efficiencies. I am confident that we have realised the best value for money for our community, for a project that goes to the very heart of keeping our people healthy and safe.”