New Zealand's local councils are about to find out the true state of their ageing water assets, say Local Government New Zealand.
President Lawrence Yule said a major report into the state of water, stormwater and sewerage systems was about to be released and will give councils an up-to-date picture of the health of their networks.
Mr Yule told Nine to Noon it was the first time a report had been put together on all three major water assets, and he expected any required work to cost more than anyone has signalled.
"When we've gone into it, we've found the more you investigate, in many cases, the more life left in the system than may have previously been thought. So we're a few months away form understanding that, but generally, when you look at asset management plans, it always costs more than most people have predicted."
He added that funding for both major and minor infrastructure projects will, in future, have to be come from sources other than ratepayers.
Mr Yule said communities with ageing populations and low-rating bases were one of the most pressing issues facing his sector.
Councils and the Government would have to look at options such as private and public partnerships and user pays systems, he said.
"Those types of things are things we've got in the mix and, equally, in our funding review, we've said how we fund some things might have to shift away from a straight property-based taxation system which is quite regressive on fixed income people to more of a share of general taxation."