Short-term costs to gain savings

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 14/12/2012
stink watch
Environment Canterbury

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Closing down its laboratories could cost Environment Canterbury $280,000 over the next year but it says the move will eventually save money.

ECan has outsourced all laboratory work to Hills Laboratories, making six staff redundant. However, a report to ECan's commissioners suggests the moves could cost the council about $280,000 over the next year.

"This is an estimate at this stage, and represents expected severance costs and write-down of equipment and disposable costs," a spokesman said.

"It also reflects reduced income going into the lab as a result of delaying some testing programmes until the new contract with Hills starts."

ECan's laboratory carried out analyses of groundwater and surface water, such as testing swimming spots for phormidium during the summer months.

Earlier correspondence to the Herald said "based on like for like testing requirements", the move could save ECan about $350,000 per year in the future.

"It isn't anticipated services will be affected. The contractual arrangements and service level requirements developed for the tender process were designed to improve services," the spokesman said.

Green Party MP and former ECan councillor Eugenie Sage was not convinced.

"Water is Canterbury's top environmental issue. Axing ECan's lab and significantly reducing the council's scientific capacity signals that the commissioners are not taking water quality seriously."

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- The Timaru Herald

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