Wetlands system more expensive than thought but trial may continue

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One of the most successful and positive developments of the past decade, the upgrade of the city’s wastewater system has reached a critical point.

This week the wastewater management committee will be asked to consider what recommendation it will make on the future of the wetlands trial which was intended to reduce the cost of reaching the next stage of the actions demanded in the resource consent that has allowed the continued use of the pipeline into the bay.

The alternative to the wetlands system would be mechanical disinfection with a combination of a clarifier and UV treatment.

The eventual goal of course of the whole project is to have human sewage removed from the pipe by 2020 as is required by the consent. The problem is that the cost of the wetlands has risen from an original $12 to $15 million to as much as $64 million although there are plans to mitigate that in various ways. The alternative cost for the UV/clarifier is around the $28 million mark.

The increased costs are disappointing because the trial has been going well with signs that they would be capable of treating the waste stream in what is a comparatively natural method.

There has even been a strong volunteer element in the trial with people offering their time for roles like seeing the plants being trialled were cared for during the holiday period.

It should never be forgotten that the current situation follows the wastewater agreement of 2009 that ended years of legal conflict between the council and tangata whenua extending as far as the Environment Court.

Hopefully the new costs are not likely to change the stance of tangata whenua who remain adamant they want human waste out of the pipe but have been prepared to keep away from litigation as long as there is a clear way to achieve that end.

The recommendation for Thursday is that the wastewater committee should pass the issue over to the full council’s December meeting and the trial should continue for another year before a final decision.

One of the most successful and positive developments of the past decade, the upgrade of the city’s wastewater system has reached a critical point.

This week the wastewater management committee will be asked to consider what recommendation it will make on the future of the wetlands trial which was intended to reduce the cost of reaching the next stage of the actions demanded in the resource consent that has allowed the continued use of the pipeline into the bay.

The alternative to the wetlands system would be mechanical disinfection with a combination of a clarifier and UV treatment.

The eventual goal of course of the whole project is to have human sewage removed from the pipe by 2020 as is required by the consent. The problem is that the cost of the wetlands has risen from an original $12 to $15 million to as much as $64 million although there are plans to mitigate that in various ways. The alternative cost for the UV/clarifier is around the $28 million mark.

The increased costs are disappointing because the trial has been going well with signs that they would be capable of treating the waste stream in what is a comparatively natural method.

There has even been a strong volunteer element in the trial with people offering their time for roles like seeing the plants being trialled were cared for during the holiday period.

It should never be forgotten that the current situation follows the wastewater agreement of 2009 that ended years of legal conflict between the council and tangata whenua extending as far as the Environment Court.

Hopefully the new costs are not likely to change the stance of tangata whenua who remain adamant they want human waste out of the pipe but have been prepared to keep away from litigation as long as there is a clear way to achieve that end.

The recommendation for Thursday is that the wastewater committee should pass the issue over to the full council’s December meeting and the trial should continue for another year before a final decision.

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