Keeping the Big 5 Working

Roading, Waste Minimisation and the Three Waters

Infrastructure is a critical part of what Council delivers to the community. It is essential to our District’s economy, businesses and every individual who uses it. As part of this LTP we’ve reviewed our Infrastructure Strategy, which outlines the coming challenges and big decisions associated with our infrastructure. This Strategy covers the big five – Roading and Footpaths, Waste Minimisation, Sewer, Stormwater and Water Supply (together called the Three Waters).

This page summarises the key issues facing the big five and how we’re looking to address these, including some decisions, both current and future that might be required.

Aging Infrastructure

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever! Some of our infrastructure is brand new, while some has been in the ground for decades.

Council aims to ensure that assets are replaced at the best possible time. We have good information about many assets and their expected lives. However, many assets are ageing and will need replacement over the next 30 years. And sometimes assets fail unexpectedly. There are also ‘bulges’ of infrastructure work that need to occur (e.g. a lot of bridges were built in the 1940s and 1960s, which means replacement will occur around the same time). This is mainly an issue for Roading and Footpaths and the Three Waters.

How this will be addressed
  • A continued programme of work to replace ageing infrastructure to maintain services provided to communities
  • Regular monitoring and condition assessment of infrastructure (e.g. putting cameras down pipes to determine their condition)
Big decisions needed
  • Best strategy for the renewal of the future bridge renewal ‘bulge’, increasing from Year 10.

Standards and Compliance

Delivering services provided by Council infrastructure must meet a multitude of standards, rules and consents, like any other industry.

Examples include meeting standards for providing safe drinking water and meeting conditions for disposal of sewerage or for methane gas emissions from Redruth landfill. All of the big five are subject to these standards and rules, and they are critically important. They help contribute to a healthier environment, safer community and resilient infrastructure.
Council does not have a choice in meeting the conditions of any consents, and must renew consents before they run out, which can often lead to stricter conditions being applied from legislation, regional plans, new resource consent conditions and community expectations for how these services are delivered. This means additional cost, such as more people to monitor how well we are doing, or to build these assets to a higher standard.

How this will be addressed
  • Meeting standards through building new or upgraded infrastructure (e.g. Upgrading water treatment plants and processes, Landfill gas management)
  • Renewal of existing consents (e.g. wastewater discharge consent)
  • Meeting new consent conditions
  • Ongoing monitoring of our success in meetings rules or standards
Big decisions needed
  • Level of expenditure on upgrading key infrastructure to meet standards
  • Renewal of major resource consents

Climate change and infrastructure resilience

Climate change will impact our infrastructure in a variety of ways.

While we don’t know the full extent of the impact yet, initial research and work is giving some clear indications. Effects could include the need to better protect key infrastructure from coastal inundation and sea level rise, building better water treatment capacity or approaches to mitigate the risk of flooding exposing closed landfills. We will likely have to respond in three ways – improve the resilience of our existing key assets, consider new ways of addressing issues and meet our broader climate change obligations.

How this will be addressed
  • Ongoing research and risk assessment, depending on the level of Council investment
  • Improving the capacity of existing services provided through existing infrastructure (e.g. better water treatment of turbid (ie silt-laden) water
  • Use of technology and new solutions
  • Installation of new technology to meet climate change obligations (e.g. landfill gas management)
Big decisions needed
  • Level of investment in climate change
  • Closed landfills strategy

Meeting the impact of growth

When planning for future infrastructure, we need to consider how growth might impact.

Growth can come in many forms, including changes in population or the number of households, economic growth leading to increases in demand for Council services or growth stemming from particular factors (e.g. an increase in heavy traffic). While Timaru District hasn’t experienced the exponential growth of other locations (e.g. Selwyn District), growth has always been fairly steady, and we need to ensure we respond and prepare where needed.
Particular growth pressures are being experienced in certain areas such as roading, with increased pressure from heavy traffic (i.e. trucks and farm machinery on the roads). Increases in landfill waste have stemmed from strong district economic growth and increased recycling contamination through the COVID-19 period. While there is plenty of water available now, we need to maximise its availability to meet future demand and address the potential effects of climate change.

How this will be addressed
  • Increasing level of investment on infrastructure where growth pressures are occurring or emerging (e.g. increased expenditure on strengthening and resurfacing roads and bridge replacements)
  • Implementing measures to manage demand (e.g. water metering)
  • Increasing investment in water treatment for urban Timaru to enable any water quantity or quality issues are addressed
  • Monitoring growth needs and pressure points
Big decisions needed
  • Ongoing level of investment to address growth issues
  • Replacement for Redruth Landfill (depending on remaining landfill life between 2041-46) at an estimated cost of $55M)
  • Approaches to improving our water resilience (e.g. water metering, water treatment upgrades)

Matching community expectations

Much of what we are discussing is about matching community expectations.

We want smooth and safe roads and footpaths, potable water to drink and good facilities. We also want certainty that our actions don’t harm the environment and that ultimately environmental outcomes are improving. We also want a great place to live, with a healthy economy that promotes good business opportunities. Timaru CBD 1The challenge faced by Council is how to meet all these expectations and ensure our infrastructure is up to speed, all within a reasonable and affordable cost.
A lot of this is business as usual, replacing and upgrading assets as needed. Sometimes, projects require a significant investment over an extended timeframe, such as that promoted through the City Hub.

How this will be addressed
  • Ongoing renewal and upgrading programme for infrastructure
  • Increases in footpath maintenance
  • City Hub Strategy implementation
Big decisions needed
  • Level of City Hub investment and Council role

See the full Infrastructure Strategy for more information

The Infrastructure Strategy includes more detail on the big five, the challenges they face and potential future solutions. Over the next thirty years, we anticipate spending over $1.529B on projects like those listed above.
The graph gives an overview of this expenditure on the big five over the next 30 years.