Wetland deferred

Decision ‘not ideal but right’ — Stoltz

Decision ‘not ideal but right’ — Stoltz

File picture

GISBORNE District Council voted yesterday to put improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment costing $23 million into its 10 year plan (LTP), but deferred the wetland option.

Two preferred options (three and five) recommended by the Wastewater Management Committee were considered.

Option three was approved for public consultation as part of next year’s long- term plan deliberations, but without the wetland component until a firm location and costings have been finalised.

Option three originally included a clarification stage at the existing biological trickling filter (BTF) plant in Banks Street, solids removal, UV disinfection, and a wetland, at a cost of $41 million.

The council staff recommended a phased approach to that option, with only clarification, solids removal and UV disinfection to be included in the LTP at this stage at a cost of $23 million.

Lifelines director David Wilson said affordability had to be considered and taken into account with the LTP.

“Rates would have to be increased substantially to include the wetland option and the project would become unaffordable very quickly.

“We recommend that the wetland option be deferred until a viable, affordable and sustainable use for the wastewater produced by it can be identified.”

Yesterday’s decision therefore involves continued use of the outfall into Poverty Bay for disposal of more highly treated wastewater produced by the Banks Street plant.

The result of the council survey on the wastewater options subject showed 36 percent support for option five (clarification, solids removal, UV disinfection, a wetland, woodchip filters and a second BTF at $54 million).

Option three provides for “very high” wastewater treatment, option five for “exceptionally” high treatment.

About 25 percent of the 1183 people who responded to the survey wanted option three.

Many respondents pointed to the need to provide for better community health, better water quality for swimming, surfing and recreation, and for fishing, shellfish gathering, spiritual and cultural values.

“Based on that there is a high level of support for significant improvements in the city’s wastewater treatment,” said project manager Wolfgang Kanz.

“We can have a high level of confidence in the outcome of the survey.”

Six to eight years

Mr Wilson told the council that the wetland option would take six to eight years to implement.

“It would take that long to identify a suitable site, purchase it and develop it as a wetland. At the moment there is no use immediately available for the treated water that the wetland would produce.”

Mr Wilson indicated the first phase of option three that the council has agreed to put out for public consultation could be finished by March 2023.

Council finance manager Pauline Foreman pointed out the financial implications of wastewater improvements.

The council’s debt would rise from $56 million in 2019 to $113 million in 2028 if the full option three was put forward without the wetland component.

With the wetland included, the debt figure at the end of 10 years would rise to nearly $131 million.

Projected annual rate increases from 2018/19 to 2027/28 are 6 percent in year one, 4 percent in years two to five, a high of 6.8 percent in year six, followed by 4.8 percent, 3.5 percent and​ then 4.0 percent for each of the final two years.

The vote to put forward the option without a wetland provision at this stage, moved by Pat Seymour and seconded by Bill Burdett, was passed by nine votes to five.

Mayor Meng Foon, councillors Rehette Stoltz, Brian Wilson, Malcolm MacLean, Graeme Thomson, Andy Cranston, Karen Fenn, Mr Burdett and Mrs Seymour voted in favour.

Those opposed were Shannon Dowsing, Josh Wharehinga, Meredith Akuhata-Brown, Amber Dunn and Larry Foster.

“We all seem to agree that there should be further progress later. What the staff have put forward makes sense, to do it in two phases,” Mr Foon said.

“It is important to build the first phase of the improvements, but still continue to investigate the second phase (wetland).”

Mrs Seymour said in moving the motion, that while the work done over the past 12 years must be recognised, the council had to make a decision that was affordable for the ratepayers.

“It is however regrettable that it has turned into something divisive.”

More for other projects

Rehette Stoltz said the decision gave them the option to invest more in projects like DrainWise.

“While it is not the ideal decision, it is the right step based on what the community can afford.”

Mr Burdett, who chaired the wastewater management committee, said he was “a realist for all”.

“At the end of the day it is about the cost and we have to keep moving forward.”

Malcolm MacLean said councillors were elected “to make the best decisions we can afford”.

“We cannot afford to spend another $20 million to appease a few.”

The five councillors who wanted the wetland commitment and cost included in the LTP also spoke.

Mr Dowsing said it was “foolish and shortsighted to settle for anything less than the wetland option”.

“It makes complete sense to aim to re-use water and iwi have asked us to step in that direction. “We should not hold back out of fear we cannot make it work.”

Amber Dunn said everything about the decision was “fast-forwarding the council into the Environment Court”.

“There has been no iwi involvement with this 11th hour decision.”

Mrs Akuhata-Brown said it was “time to man up” as a council and do what was right for the city, “especially iwi”.

Mr Wharehinga: “We do want these improvements to be affordable but the full option, with a wetland, is within our means.”

He pointed to the organisations the community owns — Eastland Community Trust, Eastland Group and Gisborne Holdings Limited.

The Mayor summed things up when he said, “we have to get all our ducks in a line and be spade ready, as the Minister of Regional Economic Development said here recently. We have until 2023 to do that if we decide about a wetland.”

GISBORNE District Council voted yesterday to put improvements to the city’s wastewater treatment costing $23 million into its 10 year plan (LTP), but deferred the wetland option.

Two preferred options (three and five) recommended by the Wastewater Management Committee were considered.

Option three was approved for public consultation as part of next year’s long- term plan deliberations, but without the wetland component until a firm location and costings have been finalised.

Option three originally included a clarification stage at the existing biological trickling filter (BTF) plant in Banks Street, solids removal, UV disinfection, and a wetland, at a cost of $41 million.

The council staff recommended a phased approach to that option, with only clarification, solids removal and UV disinfection to be included in the LTP at this stage at a cost of $23 million.

Lifelines director David Wilson said affordability had to be considered and taken into account with the LTP.

“Rates would have to be increased substantially to include the wetland option and the project would become unaffordable very quickly.

“We recommend that the wetland option be deferred until a viable, affordable and sustainable use for the wastewater produced by it can be identified.”

Yesterday’s decision therefore involves continued use of the outfall into Poverty Bay for disposal of more highly treated wastewater produced by the Banks Street plant.

The result of the council survey on the wastewater options subject showed 36 percent support for option five (clarification, solids removal, UV disinfection, a wetland, woodchip filters and a second BTF at $54 million).

Option three provides for “very high” wastewater treatment, option five for “exceptionally” high treatment.

About 25 percent of the 1183 people who responded to the survey wanted option three.

Many respondents pointed to the need to provide for better community health, better water quality for swimming, surfing and recreation, and for fishing, shellfish gathering, spiritual and cultural values.

“Based on that there is a high level of support for significant improvements in the city’s wastewater treatment,” said project manager Wolfgang Kanz.

“We can have a high level of confidence in the outcome of the survey.”

Six to eight years

Mr Wilson told the council that the wetland option would take six to eight years to implement.

“It would take that long to identify a suitable site, purchase it and develop it as a wetland. At the moment there is no use immediately available for the treated water that the wetland would produce.”

Mr Wilson indicated the first phase of option three that the council has agreed to put out for public consultation could be finished by March 2023.

Council finance manager Pauline Foreman pointed out the financial implications of wastewater improvements.

The council’s debt would rise from $56 million in 2019 to $113 million in 2028 if the full option three was put forward without the wetland component.

With the wetland included, the debt figure at the end of 10 years would rise to nearly $131 million.

Projected annual rate increases from 2018/19 to 2027/28 are 6 percent in year one, 4 percent in years two to five, a high of 6.8 percent in year six, followed by 4.8 percent, 3.5 percent and​ then 4.0 percent for each of the final two years.

The vote to put forward the option without a wetland provision at this stage, moved by Pat Seymour and seconded by Bill Burdett, was passed by nine votes to five.

Mayor Meng Foon, councillors Rehette Stoltz, Brian Wilson, Malcolm MacLean, Graeme Thomson, Andy Cranston, Karen Fenn, Mr Burdett and Mrs Seymour voted in favour.

Those opposed were Shannon Dowsing, Josh Wharehinga, Meredith Akuhata-Brown, Amber Dunn and Larry Foster.

“We all seem to agree that there should be further progress later. What the staff have put forward makes sense, to do it in two phases,” Mr Foon said.

“It is important to build the first phase of the improvements, but still continue to investigate the second phase (wetland).”

Mrs Seymour said in moving the motion, that while the work done over the past 12 years must be recognised, the council had to make a decision that was affordable for the ratepayers.

“It is however regrettable that it has turned into something divisive.”

More for other projects

Rehette Stoltz said the decision gave them the option to invest more in projects like DrainWise.

“While it is not the ideal decision, it is the right step based on what the community can afford.”

Mr Burdett, who chaired the wastewater management committee, said he was “a realist for all”.

“At the end of the day it is about the cost and we have to keep moving forward.”

Malcolm MacLean said councillors were elected “to make the best decisions we can afford”.

“We cannot afford to spend another $20 million to appease a few.”

The five councillors who wanted the wetland commitment and cost included in the LTP also spoke.

Mr Dowsing said it was “foolish and shortsighted to settle for anything less than the wetland option”.

“It makes complete sense to aim to re-use water and iwi have asked us to step in that direction. “We should not hold back out of fear we cannot make it work.”

Amber Dunn said everything about the decision was “fast-forwarding the council into the Environment Court”.

“There has been no iwi involvement with this 11th hour decision.”

Mrs Akuhata-Brown said it was “time to man up” as a council and do what was right for the city, “especially iwi”.

Mr Wharehinga: “We do want these improvements to be affordable but the full option, with a wetland, is within our means.”

He pointed to the organisations the community owns — Eastland Community Trust, Eastland Group and Gisborne Holdings Limited.

The Mayor summed things up when he said, “we have to get all our ducks in a line and be spade ready, as the Minister of Regional Economic Development said here recently. We have until 2023 to do that if we decide about a wetland.”

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Lisa - 8 days ago
Here is a thought, how about actually biting the bullet and spending the money on the capital investment that Gisborne needs. It is embarrassing that so many homes are not connected to the stormwater system and that most roads off the main highway look like they are better suited to the Victorian era.

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