Eyeing a water opportunity

Growth agenda.

Growth agenda.

Terry Sheldrake

The chamber is involved in a project that has the potential to bring significant benefit to our region via the horticulture sector — a feasibility study around re-useable water (wastewater).

To date there have been many meetings and much research and discussion. It will soon be time for decision-makers to complete a costing and review of this for the longer-term future.

Organisations and individuals interviewed include potential iwi users and financial representatives, scientists, engineers, council staff, growers, sports club management, real-estate professionals and property owners. Interviews are ongoing and early feedback is promising.

We agree with many that the potential is there to apply re-used water to the root systems of apple trees, citrus and possibly kiwifruit. Discussions with the likes of Turners & Growers (apples) and Zespri (kiwifruit) are a key part of this exercise.

Prior to entering into this process, we were aware that international export standards meant this resource could not be used for export produce, eg lettuce/tomatoes etc, where the water above the land touched the end product.

Water is indeed recognised as liquid gold across our horticulture sector. Everyone interviewed to date has been positive about the potential of re-using this water, with many stating that there simply is not enough guaranteed water today as we are thrashing the existing resource. Hence, at this time business expansion considerations had to wait.

So what are the options?

In simplistic terms we have the water available for re-use. On average about 13,700 cubic metres of treated wastewater is pumped out to sea each day. Locally we have the professional skills (science, technology and engineering expertise), supported by several years of research that is well documented. GDC confirms that it has a great deal of information and numerous reports about alternative use and disposal of wastewater. To date it has invested over $2 million into exploring this very topic.

What we don’t know is the cost of upgrading our current wastewater treatment system to an acceptable level for our recyclable water to be used for horticulture — good enough to meet the standards required for export produce.

Then, what is the cost to build the infrastructure to pipe it out to the Flats, or to a wetland if this proved to be the preferred and more viable option? Yes, storage or pumping “where to” over the winter months all need to be considered and answered.

Ultimately the questions are, what is the cost compared to today? Who pays — GDC, private sector? What is the cost to the end user of this reused water?

Legislation states that the GDC must have upgraded screening and treatment in place by 2020, which is fast approaching and a mandate that they look likely not to achieve.

If water is guaranteed there is the potential for significant horticulture expansion, which in turn creates employment opportunities and requires additional infrastructure.

If you would like to make any contribution to this current project feasibility, please contact me at your convenience. You will find me at the chamber office at 157 Grey Street.

Recently Activate Tairawhiti highlighted the high and growing number of employment opportunities in the region.

Examples include over 50 truck drivers required, forestry consistently has opportunities, and there is high demand across our horticulture sector. Our tourism and health sectors along with Gisborne District Council are also all advertising vacancies.

It is great to have Straker Translations opening a regional office here — congratulations to all involved in making this happen.

  • Terry Sheldrake MNZM is chief executive of Gisborne Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber is involved in a project that has the potential to bring significant benefit to our region via the horticulture sector — a feasibility study around re-useable water (wastewater).

To date there have been many meetings and much research and discussion. It will soon be time for decision-makers to complete a costing and review of this for the longer-term future.

Organisations and individuals interviewed include potential iwi users and financial representatives, scientists, engineers, council staff, growers, sports club management, real-estate professionals and property owners. Interviews are ongoing and early feedback is promising.

We agree with many that the potential is there to apply re-used water to the root systems of apple trees, citrus and possibly kiwifruit. Discussions with the likes of Turners & Growers (apples) and Zespri (kiwifruit) are a key part of this exercise.

Prior to entering into this process, we were aware that international export standards meant this resource could not be used for export produce, eg lettuce/tomatoes etc, where the water above the land touched the end product.

Water is indeed recognised as liquid gold across our horticulture sector. Everyone interviewed to date has been positive about the potential of re-using this water, with many stating that there simply is not enough guaranteed water today as we are thrashing the existing resource. Hence, at this time business expansion considerations had to wait.

So what are the options?

In simplistic terms we have the water available for re-use. On average about 13,700 cubic metres of treated wastewater is pumped out to sea each day. Locally we have the professional skills (science, technology and engineering expertise), supported by several years of research that is well documented. GDC confirms that it has a great deal of information and numerous reports about alternative use and disposal of wastewater. To date it has invested over $2 million into exploring this very topic.

What we don’t know is the cost of upgrading our current wastewater treatment system to an acceptable level for our recyclable water to be used for horticulture — good enough to meet the standards required for export produce.

Then, what is the cost to build the infrastructure to pipe it out to the Flats, or to a wetland if this proved to be the preferred and more viable option? Yes, storage or pumping “where to” over the winter months all need to be considered and answered.

Ultimately the questions are, what is the cost compared to today? Who pays — GDC, private sector? What is the cost to the end user of this reused water?

Legislation states that the GDC must have upgraded screening and treatment in place by 2020, which is fast approaching and a mandate that they look likely not to achieve.

If water is guaranteed there is the potential for significant horticulture expansion, which in turn creates employment opportunities and requires additional infrastructure.

If you would like to make any contribution to this current project feasibility, please contact me at your convenience. You will find me at the chamber office at 157 Grey Street.

Recently Activate Tairawhiti highlighted the high and growing number of employment opportunities in the region.

Examples include over 50 truck drivers required, forestry consistently has opportunities, and there is high demand across our horticulture sector. Our tourism and health sectors along with Gisborne District Council are also all advertising vacancies.

It is great to have Straker Translations opening a regional office here — congratulations to all involved in making this happen.

  • Terry Sheldrake MNZM is chief executive of Gisborne Chamber of Commerce.

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you want the rail line to Gisborne reinstated now?