Thursday 30 July 2020

Fix the darned pipes

Wellington loses somewhere between 7 and 32 percent of its water because of leaks in the pipes. Nobody knows how much is lost because water isn't properly metered. Wellington has more than three times as many old cruddy pipes as the next worst council, Christchurch. 

Getting a new source to meet both new demand and the leaks will cost $250 million. Additional sources are likely worth having anyway for resilience against quakes, so long as they don't feed into the same potential fail point of the big pipe at the main faultlines. But the leaks mean supply costs are higher than they need to be. 

Metering makes an awful lot of sense - or at least I'm pretty optimistic that the business case will come out well. 

Wellington Council's decided to spend $200m strengthening the library rather than looking to the something more like a $90 million model based on the rather nice example in Christchurch. 

There are somewhere around 80,000 households in Wellington. The library then costs each household a bit over $3k in capital costs. There's a huge looming capital cost in fixing all the pipes. 

So long as voters keep rewarding councillors and mayors for flashy new convention centres ($180 million, or about $2,250 per household) and for deciding that 1990s libraries are actually historical monuments that have to be kept exactly as-is but strengthened every few years to new standards, and keep failing to punish councillors and mayors for letting all of the underground infrastructure rot out from under us, this is what we'll keep getting. 

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