More work now to address inflow issues from private properties

EDITORIAL

Gisborne District Council finds itself in something of a quandary as it seeks to move forward faster on the DrainWise project which is the key to preventing regular discharges of wastewater into the city rivers.

The council has budgeted $22 million for this DrainWise project, the bulk of which has been described as business-as-usual expenditure with $15m for renewal of pipes and $7m for capital works. So far $8m of that has been spent, with the council struggling to meet its annual target and certain to fall behind this financial year which ends next month.

The problem, however, is that even when the project is finished, it will not be enough on its own to prevent overflows.

The reason for that, the council was told last Thursday, is overflows from private properties into the system.

Fixing these would cost about $13.2m, the council was told by its utilities manager Neville West.

There was no provision in the original $22m budget for overflows and infiltration from private properties, which had not been identified at that stage as a root cause, but will be addressed as an enforcement issue.

Staff have been told to come back with a detailed estimate of what it will cost to fix the problem on private properties along with details of how that might be done.

One problem seems to be that the council has difficulty establishing how much is coming off private properties.

That has been a regular query from correspondents to the paper, while former councillor Manu Caddie asked on Saturday for evidence to prove the claim that 95 percent of infiltration came from residential downpipes and surface water on private property.

This extra money of course comes on top of what it will cost to take the wastewater project to the next stage required for its resource consent. That was estimated to be between $20m and $50m but a working group is trying hard to bring that down as far as possible.

The two issues between them add up to a knotty problem for the council.

Gisborne District Council finds itself in something of a quandary as it seeks to move forward faster on the DrainWise project which is the key to preventing regular discharges of wastewater into the city rivers.

The council has budgeted $22 million for this DrainWise project, the bulk of which has been described as business-as-usual expenditure with $15m for renewal of pipes and $7m for capital works. So far $8m of that has been spent, with the council struggling to meet its annual target and certain to fall behind this financial year which ends next month.

The problem, however, is that even when the project is finished, it will not be enough on its own to prevent overflows.

The reason for that, the council was told last Thursday, is overflows from private properties into the system.

Fixing these would cost about $13.2m, the council was told by its utilities manager Neville West.

There was no provision in the original $22m budget for overflows and infiltration from private properties, which had not been identified at that stage as a root cause, but will be addressed as an enforcement issue.

Staff have been told to come back with a detailed estimate of what it will cost to fix the problem on private properties along with details of how that might be done.

One problem seems to be that the council has difficulty establishing how much is coming off private properties.

That has been a regular query from correspondents to the paper, while former councillor Manu Caddie asked on Saturday for evidence to prove the claim that 95 percent of infiltration came from residential downpipes and surface water on private property.

This extra money of course comes on top of what it will cost to take the wastewater project to the next stage required for its resource consent. That was estimated to be between $20m and $50m but a working group is trying hard to bring that down as far as possible.

The two issues between them add up to a knotty problem for the council.

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