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Considering Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrades

October 2016

National Policy Statements (NPSs) are issued by the Government to provide direction to local government about matters of national significance. The introduction of the NPS for Freshwater Management 2014 (NPS-FM 2014) directs Councils to set objectives that their communities want for their water bodies in the future and set limits to meet these objectives. As a result, Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) upgrades are on the future projects list for a number of Councils. Councils are ultimately accountable to their communities and have a legal obligation to ensure that projects are managed effectively to achieve a good outcome for their ratepayers.

For the majority of Councils, the upgrade of a WWTP will be a significant project and may well be out of the ordinary and unique in terms of its delivery. The upgrade of a WWTP is a complex, high value undertaking often associated with a number of significant risks which, if not properly managed, can have serious consequences. These risks range from financial cost blowouts, issues associated with keeping the WWTP operational during construction, or achieving technical compliance with consent conditions post completion of the upgrade.

We have observed that:

  • Early project planning is essential to confirm fundamental project objectives
  • A Project Plan confirming core project management elements is essential at the outset to record the outcome of key decisions to inform Council and to promote buy-in of all stakeholders
  • Appropriate governance is essential to maintain control over operational, financial, risk management and reporting issues
  • Project teams must comprise competent members who are able to identify significant risks, with the ability to understand consequences and develop mitigation plans. These teams may benefit from an independent member.

Morrison Low has in-depth experience in providing expert advice as a trusted advisor on high profile projects such as a WWTP upgrade. Clients value the targeted advice and services that we are able to deliver to ensure that all project elements are managed effectively, and risks are identified and mitigated in accordance with good industry practice.

Our wide range of services for WWTP upgrades includes project governance, project management and procurement.  We have a number of industry experts who have developed a proven track record in high profile infrastructure projects including WWTP upgrades.

Recognising the challenges faced by many Councils around WWTP standards and development, we will be presenting a webinar in due course which will explore our key learnings in more detail. It will be relevant for a wide range of council staff – asset planners, through to engineers and procurement specialists to financial managers.

If you wish to know more, please contact Alice Grace or Ewen Skinner