Launch gets ‘wa­ter story’ started

CHB Mail - - News - BY CLIN­TON LLEWELLYN

CHB mayor Alex Walker donned a high-vis, hard hat and steel-capped boots be­fore get­ting be­hind the con­trols of a dig­ger to launch a $30 mil­lion in­vest­ment in the district's drink­ing wa­ter, stormwa­ter and waste­water sys­tems over the next decade.

Dubbed by the CHB District Coun­cil as “#the­big­wa­ter­story” dur­ing re­cent con­sul­ta­tion on its 2018-28 long term plan, the ma­jor in­vest­ment by coun­cil in the “three wa­ters” in­cludes 11 ini­tial key projects, but is part of a larger cap­i­tal works pro­gramme in­volv­ing more than 50 projects over the next 10 years.

Mayor Walker showed off her earth­mov­ing skills at a “ground break­ing” cer­e­mony held last Thurs­day af­ter­noon in Otane, next to a new 26-lot sub­di­vi­sion be­ing de­vel­oped by Hast­ings-based Liv­ingston Prop­er­ties on the cor­ner of Bell and Dee streets.

In con­junc­tion with the de­vel­op­ers, coun­cil is up­grad­ing the waste­water sys­tem to ser­vice the new de­vel­op­ment. The site was also cho­sen to host the sym­bolic launch as the works will form part of stage one of a $2.7m project to cre­ate an al­ter­na­tive drink­ing wa­ter sup­ply for Otane — one of the ma­jor project s n #the­big­wa­ter­story.

Ini­tially con­nected at White Rd, the sec­ond sup­ply will even­tu­ally link up to the Waipawa reser­voir via Hig­gin­son St to build re­silience. An­other ma­jor wa­ter project, a $845,000 up­grade of Otane's waste­water treat­ment plant, is in the ten­der-eval­u­a­tion stage.

Mayor Walker de­scribed the #the­big­wa­ter­story as a large and sig­nif­i­cant cap­i­tal works pro­gramme which had not “been seen in this district for a very long time”.

With the district en­joy­ing sig­nif­i­cant pop­u­la­tion growth and 535 new house­holds pre­dicted to be added to the district in the next 10 years, Ms Walker said durable in­fra­struc­ture was nec­es­sary for CHB to not just “sur­vive, but thrive”.

“Let's be clear, wa­ter for us in CHB is about sur­vival. We need wa­ter to sur­vive in our com­mu­ni­ties but what the big wa­ter story is do­ing is sig­ni­fy­ing that, ac­tu­ally, the way we man­age the way we build durable in­fra­struc­ture and the way we man­age its im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment, is how we thrive as a com­mu­nity.”

But it all comes at a cost. The coun­cil is fore­cast­ing its “mod­est” debt level to rise from a level of around $3m to $7.7m by the end of June next year, to $15m in 2019/20, and then peak at $17.2m 2021/22.

Those debt lev­els do not take into ac­count the costs of rem­e­dy­ing Waipuku­rau and Waipawa's non-com­pli­ant waste­water treat­ment plants, which could cost be­tween $12m to $36m to fix.

PHOTO: WAR­REN BUCK­LAND

CHB mayor Akex Walker be­hind the con­trols of a dig­ger at last week’s launch of the “#the­big­wa­ter­story” in Otane.

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