Looking for a $3.5b programme partner

Photo: Watercare general manager asset renewals and upgrades Suzanne Lucas.

Auckland Council’s Watercare is searching for contractors to partner with on the first half of a decade-long $3.5 billion asset renewal programme to replace ageing water and wastewater pipes and upgrade pump stations and treatment plants.

A request for proposal (RFP) was circulated this month (August 2023) to the civil construction industry.

Watercare general manager asset renewals and upgrades Suzanne Lucas says; “There’s been a huge amount of planning just to get to this point, and we obviously still have a massive amount of work ahead of us to deliver this programme of work for our customers.

“This $3.5b programme includes the biggest investment we’ve ever made in proactive replacements of Auckland’s water and wastewater network pipes, which makes up about three-quarters of the overall programme.

“It’s a move away from the traditional ‘fix it when it breaks’ philosophy to a much more strategic and proactive approach. Ultimately, this programme means our customers can expect fewer leaks, fewer water outages and fewer wastewater overflows.

“It’s a big investment, but over time we should see the benefit of that investment with a reduced spend on reactive maintenance work from fewer pipe breaks, for example. It also means that with a confirmed forward works programme, it’s easier for us to plan and coordinate work with other agencies so we can minimise disruption by only digging up a street once.”

Watercare head of supply chain Stuart Bird says Watercare has already consulted the industry on its plans with the renewal programme over the past 8 months.

“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. There are significant benefits to adopting a partnership approach – both to us and the contractors we end up working with, who will be small to medium-sized businesses.

“For the industry it means the certainty of a forward works programme, which in turn gives them the confidence to invest in the right people and best technology to do the job.

“And for us it means more efficient delivery, improved quality and consistency and stronger relationships with our supply chain as we work together to meet our cost, carbon and health and safety targets.

“The traditional project tendering process consumes a huge amount of time – both at our end, and for the contractors hoping to get the work. It’s far more efficient to group the work into a five-year programme and have one intensive selection process.”

The deadline for proposals is September 8 and Watercare hopes to be awarding contracts before Christmas.

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