Wastewater treatment decision time

Rehette Stoltz

COLUMN

We have a busy two weeks ahead of us. Because of our workload, we decided to have an additional council meeting this Thursday and conclude our business for 2017 on December 14 at our final council meeting.

This Thursday it is wastewater options decision time. We need to decide which preferred option we will take to the community in early 2018 for consultation for inclusion in the Ten-Year Plan.

The five options have been discussed in detail in the newspaper and hopefully every reader received a wastewater consultation document via snail mail, or alternatively communicated with us via the WTF consultation platform.

All options mean large (some massive) capital investment.

In order for councillors to make decisions that represent what the community desires, we need to make sure we engage and involve everyone in the decision-making process. It is no easy task, as everyone has different ways that they want to be approached and voice their opinion, and some residents might not be interested or some are totally disengaged from local government.

A lot of work has gone into pre-consultation and I would like to congratulate staff on pulling out all the stops to effectively engage with the community. So let’s take a look at what our community said:

We had 1192 respondents to the survey. That is a great strike rate as we usually struggle to get large numbers of residents excited about council projects. The return rate represents a high level of response that exceeds the sample size required (584-590 responses for a community of our size) for a 95 percent confidence level. Thank you for your input.

Feedback shows that the three highest treatment options (Options 3, 4 and 5) were preferred by 80 percent of respondents. That indicates strong support for a high level of future wastewater treatment in Gisborne.

Option 5 was the most popular option with 36 percent of respondents indicating it was their first choice. This option, which is the highest cost option, involves the addition of UV disinfection, clarification, a 12 hectare wetland, a woodchip filter, as well as an additional BTF to the current treatment processes. It also provides the highest level of treatment and resulting water quality improvement and is the preferred option of iwi representatives on the Wastewater Management Committee (WMC).

The staff report includes option 3 as well as option 5 for consideration. Councillors will need to make a decision based on the wastewater management options review process, the recommendations from the WMC as well as the outcomes from the LTP pre-consultation. As always, we will need to look at the wastewater decision as part of our bigger work plan and total budget.

In another section of our agenda, we will review our initial decisions from our first project prioritisation workshop. Staff presented several different scenarios to us where certain levels of service and specific projects were included or excluded. That was a very sobering process. Every councillor had to acknowledge that we would have to cut our coat according to our cloth.

We have several core projects (wastewater, DrainWise, roads, flood protection etc) that need urgent attention. Decision-making will be tough — a balancing act indeed — weighing up what we need (or want), and what we, as a community, can ultimately afford.

We have a busy two weeks ahead of us. Because of our workload, we decided to have an additional council meeting this Thursday and conclude our business for 2017 on December 14 at our final council meeting.

This Thursday it is wastewater options decision time. We need to decide which preferred option we will take to the community in early 2018 for consultation for inclusion in the Ten-Year Plan.

The five options have been discussed in detail in the newspaper and hopefully every reader received a wastewater consultation document via snail mail, or alternatively communicated with us via the WTF consultation platform.

All options mean large (some massive) capital investment.

In order for councillors to make decisions that represent what the community desires, we need to make sure we engage and involve everyone in the decision-making process. It is no easy task, as everyone has different ways that they want to be approached and voice their opinion, and some residents might not be interested or some are totally disengaged from local government.

A lot of work has gone into pre-consultation and I would like to congratulate staff on pulling out all the stops to effectively engage with the community. So let’s take a look at what our community said:

We had 1192 respondents to the survey. That is a great strike rate as we usually struggle to get large numbers of residents excited about council projects. The return rate represents a high level of response that exceeds the sample size required (584-590 responses for a community of our size) for a 95 percent confidence level. Thank you for your input.

Feedback shows that the three highest treatment options (Options 3, 4 and 5) were preferred by 80 percent of respondents. That indicates strong support for a high level of future wastewater treatment in Gisborne.

Option 5 was the most popular option with 36 percent of respondents indicating it was their first choice. This option, which is the highest cost option, involves the addition of UV disinfection, clarification, a 12 hectare wetland, a woodchip filter, as well as an additional BTF to the current treatment processes. It also provides the highest level of treatment and resulting water quality improvement and is the preferred option of iwi representatives on the Wastewater Management Committee (WMC).

The staff report includes option 3 as well as option 5 for consideration. Councillors will need to make a decision based on the wastewater management options review process, the recommendations from the WMC as well as the outcomes from the LTP pre-consultation. As always, we will need to look at the wastewater decision as part of our bigger work plan and total budget.

In another section of our agenda, we will review our initial decisions from our first project prioritisation workshop. Staff presented several different scenarios to us where certain levels of service and specific projects were included or excluded. That was a very sobering process. Every councillor had to acknowledge that we would have to cut our coat according to our cloth.

We have several core projects (wastewater, DrainWise, roads, flood protection etc) that need urgent attention. Decision-making will be tough — a balancing act indeed — weighing up what we need (or want), and what we, as a community, can ultimately afford.

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