6. WATERCARE COMMUNICATIONS - 1994 (from Diary notes)

March 9 - first phone call to Watercare. Enquired about dam levels (then at 48%) and contingency plans other than water conservation. Was informed that Mark Bourne (Engineer) was spokesman for the drought management team but was away for the week. March 22 - call to Mark Bourne about the drought. Discussed lake levels (then at 45.5%), rainfall results, water consumption rate, and amount of rainfall required to fill dams. Mark said drought could be over in 3 months (end of June) if get average rainfall but if levels fall to 40% there would be a total ban on water sprinklers.

May 25 - call to Mark to arrange meeting to discuss my WM proposal to fill water dams.  Advised to call him at home and gave me his phone number (which was soon restricted). May 26  - called Watercare to speak to Chief executive, Garry Law. Informed by reception that he was no longer with the company. Mark Ford the new (acting) CEO.

June 3, 10:50am - call to Mark Ford - not in a position to judge feasibility of my proposal. Referred me to Mark Bourne and Richard Chandler (Water Supply Manager) for discussion. 3:50pm - called Mark Bourne and appointment fixed for June 8. Visited Watercare, June 8, 1:30pm and informed by receptionist that meeting was postponed. June 9 - call to Mark to organize new meeting - unavailable - left message for him to call me back. June 11 - called Sir Barry Curtis (Mayor of Manukau City and chairman of Mayoral Forum set up to coordinate civic response to the crisis) who suggested I contact Ross Cook (new Chairman of Watercare Board of Directors). Called Ross Cook - said that he would get Mark Bourne to phone me. Monday, June 13 - no call from Mark. My call taken by Richard Chandler who informed me that the appointment would be set for the next day. June 14, 9am - finally had meeting with Mark at Watercare and discussed outline of my proposal - details to be completed and presented within a week. June 14 -19, preparation of proposal. June 20 - call to Mark - referred to Brett Clinton to fix date to present proposal.

June 21, 11am - calls to Brett Clinton | Steve Grace - informed that an endorsement was required. After explaining that the proposal was based on an Indigenous solution, it was agreed that endorsement from an authority with knowledge of the cultural details would be satisfactory. Call to Professor Ranginui Walker (Maori Studies Dept, Auckland University) to organize a meeting. June 22, 4pm  - presented my proposal to Prof Walker who agreed to endorse it. He mentioned that Watercare had already called him regarding Maori "chants or prayers to start rainfall" and commented, "they must be desperate". June 23 - call to Brett Clinton 1:20pm - told Brett that I had seen Prof Walker and that he was prepared to endorse the contents of my proposal. Brett replied that Richard Chandler had already contacted Prof Walker. June 24, 4pm - call to Richard taken by Alan McPike (Watercare hydrologist) who advised me that my proposal would require a resource consent and that he would check it out. Monday, June 27, 4:20pm - call to Alan McPike - among requirements discussed for the proposed trial were; resource consent, request to NIWA to monitor rainfall and probable costs, checking dam levels, etc. Alan said he would get back to me regarding details.

July 1, 4:30pm - phoned Alan - he checked with NIWA regarding cost for full trial - $200,000 for about half year involving about 50 trials. [Compare with $430,533 spent on media publicity for April - June] But Watercare could not get funding for trials and Alan preoccuppied with preparing graphs for Government. I suggested that if Watercare could not fund a formal trial with NIWA, I would do an informal | unofficial trial instead as Watercare already had equipment to measure rainfall and lake levels. Alan thought that it would be OK but it would not be acknowledged by Watercare. I understood that. Told him that I would get back to him next week. July 4 - news that Watercare had ordered pipes for the Waikato pipeline. Around July 22 | 23  - decided to start WM trial - dam levels had not changed much since May and Watercare was preparing to build the pipeline. Needed to prevent that and time was running out.

July 26 - call to Alan - said that the trial had started and that he and Watercare could monitor the rainfall and dam levels to see what happens.

August 1 - news report that planned pipe construction was postponed. August 17 - call to Sir Barry Curtis regarding the problem of obtaining a face to face hearing with Watercare. [After 5 months of numerous phone calls I had managed to get a 10 minute audience with Mark Bourne] Sir Barry said that he would be attending a Mayoral forum meeting on Friday and would mention my call to Mark. He also suggested that I write to Watercare. August 29, 3:40pm - letter and proposal personally delivered to Mark Bourne  - advised by Watercare receptionist that he was not available. Left proposal with the receptionist to give to him.

Sept 1 - call to Mark who confirmed that he had received proposal and had passed it on to Craig McIlroy (Watercare Commercial Manager) for a decision. Sept 2 - received a letter, dated August 31, from McIlroy stating that my proposal had been declined by Watercare, "after due consideration"
[Translated, this means "after months of stalling - two days without personal contact or discussion", was sufficient for Watercare to reach a decision. That decision eventually cost Auckland tens of millions of dollars.]

Undeterred, I continued with the WM trial.

October 4 - news from Watercare that the water crisis had ended- water supply lakes 76.1% full
October 20 - NZ Herald report - Auckland Regional Trust to seek a review "on the future of Auckland's controversial water supply company, Watercare Services Ltd." By October31, lakes were-90.1% full
Beginning of November - WM trial was concluded.

December - drought reappeared in Auckland and other parts of NZ.

There was no message of appreciation from Watercare - not that one was expected. However, public ridicule and condemnation of it's fast-track pipeline agenda and (mis)management of the crisis provided more than sufficient compensation. 
Indigenous (Maori) WM had been vindicated, as intended. The return of the drought at the end of December '94 and beginning of 1995 was further proof of its successful and timely application.


First presented -- July 22, 1999
© 1997- 2008 TWM