By­law con­firmed

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By KRIS DANDO

A by­law tar­get­ing reg­u­lar in­spec­tion of sep­tic tanks and waste­water sys­tems was con­firmed by Porirua City Coun­cil last week, de­spite a plea from its op­po­nents, who claim the by­law is poorly con­structed and is not sup­ported by the com­mu­nity.

The On-Site Waste­water (Sep­tic Tanks) com­po­nent of By­law Part 25 was passed by coun­cil in June last year, and in­tro­duced coun­cil as­sess­ment of sep­tic tanks. A pre­vi­ous by­law from 1993 placed the re­spon­si­bil­ity on the owner to en­sure tanks and sys­tems were reg­u­larly checked.

But a 2006 sur­vey found up to 40 per cent of tanks were in a poor state and posed a health or en­vi­ron­men­tal risk. Porirua has 525 on-site waste­water sys­tems.

As well as meet­ing the new stan­dards, sep­tic tank own­ers will face a fee of $90 when their sys­tems are as­sessed (usu­ally three to nine years).

But a group of Pau­ata­hanui res­i­dents said the by­law was passed with lit­tle con­sul­ta­tion and failed to ac­knowl­edge most sep­tic tank own­ers or­gan­ise their own in­spec­tions.

‘‘The first we heard of it was when it was be­ing dis­cussed at coun­cil and we have been play­ing catch-up ever since,’’ Alan Gray, sec­re­tary of Pau­ata­hanui Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion, told coun­cil­lors last week.

‘‘We’re not lud­dites. We do recog­nise that sep­tic tanks fail­ures are go­ing to oc­cur, but in­di­vid­ual own­ers should deal with con­trac­tors them­selves.’’

The group said the $90 fee would be ig­nored by some own­ers and the cost to ad­min­is­ter the fee and carry out in­spec­tions was a ‘‘mis­guided use of re­sources . . . when there are far more sig­nif­i­cant is­sues lan­guish­ing on the back-burner’’.

Coun­cil­lors had the op­por­tu­nity to re­voke the by­law, but only two – Tim Shep­pard and Litea Ah Hoi – sup­ported the res­i­dents.

Strat­egy, Fi­nance and Reg­u­la­tory com­mit­tee chair­man Euon Mur­rell said he had con­sid­ered the ar­gu­ments but the by­law was about pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and coun­cil needed a mea­sure of con­trol.

‘‘Of course there are own­ers that look af­ter their sys­tems but there are some who do not,’’ he said.

‘‘These sys­tems have to be main­tained to en­sure the pub­lic health and the eco­log­i­cal pro­tec­tion of our har­bour.’’

Ms Ah Hoi stressed more con­sul­ta­tion was re­quired with Pau­ata­hanui res­i­dents and de­scribed Mr Mur­rell’s in­sis­tence that there be no ‘‘re­lit­i­ga­tion’’ of the by­law or fur­ther dis­cus­sion as ‘‘un­demo­cratic’’.

‘‘Why are you shut­ting this de­bate down? I think it’s ap­palling.’’

Af­ter the meet­ing, Mr Gray told Kapi-Mana News the res­i­dents were dis­ap­pointed with the out­come and would de­cide at a meet­ing this week whether fur­ther ac­tion would be taken.

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