This sector comprises companies supplying the following services: electricity (generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and the on-selling of electricity via power distribution systems operated by others); gas through mains systems; water supply (storage, treatment and distribution); drainage; and sewage (collection, treatment and disposal through sewers and treatment facilities).

The sector also includes those mainly engaged in the collection, treatment and disposal of waste materials; remediation of contaminated materials (including land); and materials recovery activities.

The sector is involved in the operation of these services, but does not include the construction of the underlying infrastructure or trade services such as the installation of electrical wiring or plumbing in buildings (refer to Construction sector). The manufacture of new materials or products from refined waste and scrap is also not included (refer to Manufacturing sector).

Christchurch Quick Facts

  • Contributes approximately $480 million to Christchurch GDP (Infometrics’ Estimate year ended June 2014, $2010)
  • Accounts for around three percent of GDP in Christchurch
  • Around 102 business units are based in Christchurch (2014, Statistics New Zealand)
  • Has around 1,210 employees (2014, Statistics New Zealand)
Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services Sector Employment Breakdown, 2014
Source: Statistics New Zealand
Sub-sectorEmployee Count% of Total
Electricity Supply63052%
Water Supply, Sewarage and Drainage Services555%
Waste Collection, Treatment and Disposal Services51042%
Total1,210

Sector Trends

Earthquake Impacts

The Canterbury earthquakes caused significant damage to water supply and sewage infrastructure, the local electricity distribution network and the more limited gas distribution network. The eastern suburbs and central city were the worst-affected areas.

The earthquakes damaged around 528 kilometres of the sewer system. Christchurch has about 1700 kilometres of pipe in its sewer system, so this equates to around 31 percent of the network. A portion of the damage is within the Red Zone areas, which will not be rebuilt permanently, unless a pipe passing through a Red Zone serves a Green Zone area. The quakes badly damaged sewer pumping stations around the city and 100 needed to be rebuilt or replaced.

An estimated 51 kilometres of water supply mains were damaged. A total of 22 of the 175 freshwater wells were damaged to the point that they could not be used and all but 64 wells require some repairs.

There have been more than 1,000 individual faults to the underground electricity network. There was also some damage to the 11kV overhead network, including cracked insulators, and to the 400V overhead network, including poles which have sunk or are now on a lean.

Population Movement

Another consequence of the earthquakes has been a significant redistribution of population throughout the urban area. As the city’s population resettles post-earthquake the demands on these networks will also be redistributed, leading to parts of the city being undersupplied with infrastructure that will need to be upgraded. At the same time, other abandoned parts of the city have damaged infrastructure that needs to be decommissioned.

Sector Initiatives

Repair of Earthquake-Damaged Water and Wastewater Infrastructure

A significant programme of repair to water, wastewater and stormwater networks is underway. Most of the public-owned infrastructure that has been damaged is being repaired by the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (SCIRT).

SCIRT is an alliance between owner participants and non-owner participants. The owner participant organisations are the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), Christchurch City Council (CCC) and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA). The non-owner participant organisations are City Care, Downer, Fletcher, Fulton Hogan and McConnell Dowell. There are also many other Christchurch-based companies, who are part of SCIRT, playing a vital role in delivering the SCIRT programme of work.

Electricity Distribution Network Investments

In the next five years Orion plans to invest more than $350 million in new assets to restore network resilience and manage customer growth. Orion expects approximately 15,000 connections to new homes and businesses will need to be added in this period.

Burwood Resource Recovery Park

Burwood Resource Recovery Park was established urgently to manage the receipt and resource recovery processing of mixed demolition material from the Canterbury earthquakes, to deliver an immediate and low-risk solution that can address the enormous scale of the task. Around 4.25 million tonnes of demolition material is expected from the demolition of buildings. The ’clean’ concrete and brick rubble is likely to go to the Lyttelton Harbour reclamation project and other sites, as it will require only minor processing. The mixed demolition material, which requires major processing to be separated into useful components, is taken out of the city to this facility.