The time taken to repair roads and footpaths dug up for water and sewerage works in Sydney could be cut in half under a historic agreement between local councils and the city’s water authority, the New South Wales government says.

Leaders of 42 councils gathered at the Prince Henry Centre in Little Bay to sign a memorandum of understanding with Sydney Water which commits both councils and the utility to agreed time frames, quality specifications and ongoing management practices for road and footpath restoration.

Under the agreement, a 90-day target will apply to the completion of all works.

To ensure optimum value for ratepayer dollars, works will be able to be undertaken either by the council or a private contractor, with agreed specifications including quality of work applying to all work performed.

Councils will also work more closely with Sydney Water to share information about planned works.

Local government minister Paul Toole welcomed the agreement, saying that to the best of his knowledge, this was the first time so many councils had worked together to address road restoration issues.

“I’m sure everyone has had the unpleasant experience of seeing a local road or footpath in your town dug up repeatedly for utility repairs, and pedestrians and motorists are left with a crisscross of ugly asphalt trenches – sometimes for six months or more before repairs are complete,” Toole said in a statement.

“I’d like to commend the innovation shown by Sydney’s councils in working together with Sydney Water to achieve a better outcome for the state’s ratepayers and taxpayers.”

Former Mayor of Randwick and current Member for Coogee Bruce Notley Smith said he had been ‘continually frustrated’ by the amount of time taken to get restoration work completed during his tenure as Mayor.

A software system to help participating councils track and monitor works is in development, while a series of workshops are being conducted between the councils and Sydney Water to implement the agreements.

The MOU will commence from the date of signing within each council.