Wa­ter CCO back on agenda

Hamilton Metro News - - Front Page -

How big that in­vest­ment will be, and over what time­frame, has yet to be de­ter­mined and dis­cussed with the com­mu­nity.

Gavin Ion, Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive

Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil was to con­sider spend­ing a fur­ther $1.757 mil­lion to ad­dress ur­gent con­cerns around waste­water spills at its Coun­cil meet­ing yes­ter­day.

But staff and in­de­pen­dent ex­perts say that may be just the start of a long-term multi-mil­lion dol­lar pro­gramme needed to ad­dress is­sues with the dis­trict’s net­work.

In July, the Coun­cil re­ceived a for­mal warn­ing from the Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil fol­low­ing three waste wa­ter spills in four months into Raglan har­bour. The fol­low­ing month dis­trict coun­cil­lors ap­proved an im­me­di­ate $300,000 pro­gramme in­clud­ing the in­stal­la­tion of back­ups at all 18 Raglan pump sta­tions, out­age alarms, a back-up gen­er­a­tor and fund­ing for a com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme. This work is ei­ther un­der­way or al­ready com­plete.

At the same time, Coun­cil or­dered an in­de­pen­dent re­port of the dis­trict’s en­tire waste­water net­work to pin­point the causes of the over­flows and iden­tify costs to fix them.

At yes­ter­day’s meet­ing, con­sul­tants from Ja­cobs New Zealand were ex­pected to ta­ble their re­port and rec­om­mend a se­ries of steps to fast-track im­prove­ments. Rec­om­men­da­tions in­cluded em­ploy­ing­more spe­cial­ist wa­ter and waste­water staff, the pur­chase of standby gen­er­a­tors and a fur­ther $1.6 mil­lion for spe­cial­ist equip­ment ring-fenced for Raglan.

They will also rec­om­mend Coun­cil spends $3.6 mil­lion for spe­cial­ist high-pres­sure jets and closed cir­cuit tele­vi­sion (CCTV) in­ves­ti­ga­tions across the to­tal dis­trict. Staff say $1.757 mil­lion should be spent im­me­di­ately and Coun­cil should con­sult with the com­mu­nity on any fur­ther spend­ing next year.

The Ja­cobs re­port out­lines a range of op­tions all point­ing to a big­ger spend­ing pro­gramme. It says over the next decade, Waikato Dis­trict should be look­ing to in­vest $74-$134 mil­lion to bring its waste­water net­work up to scratch. More anal­y­sis is needed be­fore costs can be pinned down.

Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Gavin Ion said nei­ther the com­mu­nity nor the coun­cil would tol­er­ate on­go­ing spills and that a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment into the dis­trict’s waste­water net­work was “sim­ply non-ne­go­tiable”.

“How big that in­vest­ment will be, and over what time­frame, has yet to be de­ter­mined and dis­cussed with the com­mu­nity. We can take some im­me­di­ate steps and I sus­pect Coun­cil may want to move on some of the rec­om­men­da­tions quite quickly. But we need more in­for­ma­tion be­fore we can un­der­stand the scope of the chal­lenges ahead and the fund­ing im­pli­ca­tions.”

If Coun­cil ac­cepts the re­port’s rec­om­men­da­tions, im­me­di­ate work to im­prove the net­work would drive a fur­ther in­crease in the tar­geted rate of $68 for each prop­erty in the dis­trict con­nected to the waste­water net­work, ef­fec­tive from the 2017-2018 year. Mr Ion ac­knowl­edged it was a sig­nif­i­cant jump over and above an in­crease al­ready sig­nalled in the Coun­cil’s 10-Year Plan.

“But the clear mes­sage from our com­mu­nity is that waste wa­ter spills are sim­ply un­ac­cept­able and they ex­pect us to do some­thing about it. We can’t keep do­ing a patch-up job. To meet the com­mu­nity’s ex­pec­ta­tions, we need to se­ri­ously in­vest.”

He ex­pected more com­pre­hen­sive anal­y­sis, in­clud­ing greater cer­tainty around costs, would not be avail­able un­til the sec­ond half of 2017. Coun­cil must con­sult with the com­mu­nity be­fore un­der­tak­ing any fur­ther spend­ing, he said.

Awa­ter CCO is back on the agenda for Waikato, Waipa and Hamil­ton City coun­cils.

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