The cost of clean rivers

Another $13 million to alleviate private water intrusions in city sewage.

Another $13 million to alleviate private water intrusions in city sewage.

File picture

FACED with needing a further $13.2 million to solve private property flooding, Gisborne District Council faces some hard choices.

Stormwater intrusion is the major issue causing the problem of sewage discharges into the city rivers.

The council will probably have to find a way of either getting tough with property owners who are adding to the problem, or having to fund some or all of the $13.2 million.

This was the reaction of the council after being told the $22 million budgeted for the Drainwise project in 2012 was to fix the council’s leaking pipes and some pipe upgrades.

More money would be needed to reduce private property flooding if the council wanted to get the overflow from properties out of the system and rivers, the council heard.

The $22 million figure was budgeted in 2012 for the spend over 10 years, with $8 million spent so far.

The council’s response has been to ask staff to come back with a detailed estimate of what it will cost to fix the problem on private properties, along with details of how it might be done.

Councillors have called for more urgency in tackling the problem. It has led to a number of recent discharges through the scours into the river.

Major problem for council

Larry Foster said this was the council’s major problem. They needed to get rid of it as soon as they could.

“It has happened four times already in the past two months. The community is not happy, as you can see from Facebook and all the comments in the paper."

The Drainwise project, when originally proposed as the Wastewater Discharges Reduction project, did not identify private properties or alleviating their discharge into the wastewater system.

“If we are going to spend all this money on having our wastewater system upgraded, but it is getting infiltrated every time we have a little bit of rain ... what are we doing?” Mr Foster said.

Before it spent $30 million on the wastewater upgrade, the council had to look at getting the stormwater out of its system.

Chief executive Nedine Thatcher-Swann said the money for the Drainwise project was business as usual funding as the work is largely renewing the councils’ pipes. There was no money for extra work on private property.

What she had now learned was the whole integrated view of how things were interconnected. Staff were now working on preparing an integrated project with costs and timelines that would be brought back to the council.

“We need a big picture approach on this,” she said.

Mayor Meng Foon said “If you ever read the Gisborne Herald, the most famous Gisborne Herald in the world, it will tell you that people are sticking towels in there (the wastewater system), and tyres, bicycle tubes and bricks.

“It is not only just the stormwater that gets in there, there are some very naughty people in the city that actually chuck things down the toilet and block the damn thing. We have to open the scours, otherwise it will flow back into their properties."

$15 million for renewal of pipes

Utilities manager Neville West said that in the original $22 million business as usual Drainwise project budget in 2012 there was around $15 million for renewal of pipes and $7 million for capital works.

There was no budget for private properties which had not been identified at that stage as a root cause, but would be addressed as an enforcement issue.

The works and infrastructure committee had been given a discharge reduction plan in December 2016, with three options to reduce overflows.

The report said the lowest cost option was $38 million and this option included some funding to reduce private property flooding but would also require a level of enforcement.

The adoption of the plan would be considered as part of the long term plan strategy to seek the appropriate funding.

There was a raft of issues involved on work being done on private properties.

“We are not sitting on our hands. People have said don’t come to us until you fix your own system,” he said.

FACED with needing a further $13.2 million to solve private property flooding, Gisborne District Council faces some hard choices.

Stormwater intrusion is the major issue causing the problem of sewage discharges into the city rivers.

The council will probably have to find a way of either getting tough with property owners who are adding to the problem, or having to fund some or all of the $13.2 million.

This was the reaction of the council after being told the $22 million budgeted for the Drainwise project in 2012 was to fix the council’s leaking pipes and some pipe upgrades.

More money would be needed to reduce private property flooding if the council wanted to get the overflow from properties out of the system and rivers, the council heard.

The $22 million figure was budgeted in 2012 for the spend over 10 years, with $8 million spent so far.

The council’s response has been to ask staff to come back with a detailed estimate of what it will cost to fix the problem on private properties, along with details of how it might be done.

Councillors have called for more urgency in tackling the problem. It has led to a number of recent discharges through the scours into the river.

Major problem for council

Larry Foster said this was the council’s major problem. They needed to get rid of it as soon as they could.

“It has happened four times already in the past two months. The community is not happy, as you can see from Facebook and all the comments in the paper."

The Drainwise project, when originally proposed as the Wastewater Discharges Reduction project, did not identify private properties or alleviating their discharge into the wastewater system.

“If we are going to spend all this money on having our wastewater system upgraded, but it is getting infiltrated every time we have a little bit of rain ... what are we doing?” Mr Foster said.

Before it spent $30 million on the wastewater upgrade, the council had to look at getting the stormwater out of its system.

Chief executive Nedine Thatcher-Swann said the money for the Drainwise project was business as usual funding as the work is largely renewing the councils’ pipes. There was no money for extra work on private property.

What she had now learned was the whole integrated view of how things were interconnected. Staff were now working on preparing an integrated project with costs and timelines that would be brought back to the council.

“We need a big picture approach on this,” she said.

Mayor Meng Foon said “If you ever read the Gisborne Herald, the most famous Gisborne Herald in the world, it will tell you that people are sticking towels in there (the wastewater system), and tyres, bicycle tubes and bricks.

“It is not only just the stormwater that gets in there, there are some very naughty people in the city that actually chuck things down the toilet and block the damn thing. We have to open the scours, otherwise it will flow back into their properties."

$15 million for renewal of pipes

Utilities manager Neville West said that in the original $22 million business as usual Drainwise project budget in 2012 there was around $15 million for renewal of pipes and $7 million for capital works.

There was no budget for private properties which had not been identified at that stage as a root cause, but would be addressed as an enforcement issue.

The works and infrastructure committee had been given a discharge reduction plan in December 2016, with three options to reduce overflows.

The report said the lowest cost option was $38 million and this option included some funding to reduce private property flooding but would also require a level of enforcement.

The adoption of the plan would be considered as part of the long term plan strategy to seek the appropriate funding.

There was a raft of issues involved on work being done on private properties.

“We are not sitting on our hands. People have said don’t come to us until you fix your own system,” he said.

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Manu Caddie - 2 years ago
It's confusing to see staff suggest "that in the original $22 million business as usual Drainwise project budget in 2012 there was around $15 million for renewal of pipes and $7 million for capital works..." but "There was no budget for private properties which had not been identified at that stage as a root cause, but would be addressed as an enforcement issue."
The Wastewater Activity Report from 15 March 2012 says:
"As the CCTV inspections in Catchment 30 [Kara, Porter, Wildish, Daphne Streets and Craig Road] are being completed remedial notices are being sent out to instruct property owners to repair laterals, remove downpipes from gully traps and repair defective gully traps."
It would seem that not only had private properties been identified at that stage as "a root cause", but there was both budget allocated and enforcement action already under way in 2012.
Of course the real culprits in this situation aren't private property owners now being used as scapegoats, but instead it is the politicians, like myself, who were not, and still are not, willing to commit the funds earlier to fix the broken pipes that allow ground water infiltration and inadequate pumping stations that weren't designed to handle the volumes they now have to process.

Wiki Gerrard - 2 years ago
The money wasted on a new council building could have paid for fixing the stormwater problem! GDC, wake up - the community is not happy.

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