McConnell Dowell to work with Watercare on its $3.5b asset renewal programme

McConnell Dowell is starting 2024 and a new long-term relationship with Auckland’s Watercare after signing on to help deliver the first stage of its ambitious $3.5b asset renewal programme.

The successful companies were identified after a rigorous, three-month selection process.

They’ll work on the first half of a decade-long programme to replace ageing water and wastewater pipes and upgrade pump stations and treatment plants.

Watercare asset upgrades and renewals and general manager Suzanne Lucas says: “There were some really strong applicants, and it was a challenge at times to narrow it down. But we had a comprehensive set of criteria to use in assessing the proposals which certainly helped. We have stringent requirements around a demonstrated commitment to health and safety, as well as to sustainability and carbon reduction initiatives and of course efficiency and ability to deliver.

“We’re really confident that we’ve found the right partners who’ll help us to design and deliver the first phase of our $3.5b asset renewals programme, which will be the biggest investment we’ve ever made in proactive network renewals.

“It’s hugely exciting to be at this point, and we can’t wait to start developing and allocating targeted programmes of work that for our customers will ultimately mean fewer leaks and water outages, and fewer wastewater overflows.

“Over time, we should see the benefit of our investment with a reduced spend on reactive maintenance work from fewer pipe breaks.

“The partnership approach gives these businesses the certainty of a forward works programme, which allows them the confidence to invest in the right people and best technology for the job ahead. One of our drivers is to upskill the market in both capability and capacity, to help these businesses develop and grow. 

“And from our perspective, we expect to be able to deliver these upgrades and renewals more efficiently in terms of cost and time, and with improved quality and consistency that will come from our partners developing expertise in their specific work programmes.

“The successful contractors and consultants are a mix of locally-owned and international businesses, which gives a broad range of expertise and access to emerging technologies.”

Watercare head of supply chain and procurement Stuart Bird says while the request-for-proposal process has been labour intensive, it will save a huge amount to time in the years to come.

“The traditional project-by-project procurement process simply wouldn’t have worked for the volume of projects this programme of work will cover. Doing it this way means a big investment in time up front, but it will pay dividends by reducing the amount of time and money spent on individual tenders for small, short-term bundles of work.”

As part of the procurement process for the renewal programme, Bird and Lucas are particularly proud to have set up a Māori Supplier Business Network – a pre-approved list of relevant suppliers who can supply services including traffic management, electrical, scaffolding, landscaping civil works and plant or labour hire.

“We have a target to have 5 per cent of our annual total contract spend going to Māori businesses by 2025,” Bird says. “For the 2022/2023 financial year, our spend with Māori businesses was 2.2% – so we do have a way to go, and we’ll need businesses in our supply chain to help us get there. By setting up the Māori Supplier Business Network, we’re helping to connect contractors to businesses who can do the mahi.

“This is something I’m personally passionate about – it’s about lifting the Māori economy and ensuring Māori businesses have the opportunity to work with us.” 

Watercare worked with supplier diversity organisation Amotai, which acts as an intermediary to connect Māori and Pasifika businesses with organisations looking for suppliers of goods and services.

As well as the Contractor and Māori Business Supplier panel members listed below there is also a Consultants Panel

Contracting panel partners:

  • McConnell Dowell Constructors Ltd
  • March Cato Ltd
  • HEB Construction Ltd
  • CB Civil & Drainage Ltd
  • Pipeline & Civil Ltd
  • Seipp Construction Ltd
  • Abergeldie Complex Infrastructure Ltd
  • Cassidy Construction Ltd
  • Omexom
  • McKay Ltd
  • Apex Water Ltd

Watercare’s Māori Business Supplier Network:

  • Ascon Skilled Personnel Ltd
  • Civil Pipelayers
  • Evolve Electrical & Technology Ltd
  • Ground & Pound Contracting
  • Hindmarsh Drainage Contractors Ltd
  • Independent Construction Ltd
  • Independent Traffic Control Ltd
  • Lite Civil Ltd
  • Next Hire
  • Olsen Welding Ltd
  • Omaet Contracting Ltd
  • Pinnacle Scaffolds Ltd
  • Platinum Electrical Ltd
  • Tana NZ Ltd
  • Veza Drainage Ltd