Option 5 best value into future

Murray Palmer

COLUMN

The Wastewater Management Committee’s decision to forward Options 3 and 5 to the council as preferred options for wider consultation reflects the recent public survey, where the preferences of 1183 respondents were 20 percent for Options 1 and 2, 25 percent for Option 3, 18 percent for Option 4, and 36 percent for Option 5.

In terms of survey reliability, it is useful to compare these results with those from 2000, when 22 percent of the 500 participants in a Digipoll survey voted to continue only with milliscreening, 35 percent to develop stabilisation ponds (at a cost of $200 per annum per household), and 38 percent to establish an activated sludge system (at a cost of $300 per household).

Several commentators have major concerns over the cost to ratepayers of the favoured wastewater treatment options. However, at $324 per annum for Option 3 and $383 per annum for Option 5, the difference to individual ratepayers will be about $1.15 per week — less than a third of the price of a cup of coffee.

I’d like to outline why I support Option 5 to proceed as the preferred option for the wastewater system upgrade.

While Option 3 provides a minimum which may or may not be acceptable in a historical context and to the current 2009 resource consent, Option 5 includes a system that is most likely to provide for removal of the discharge of human wastewater from the bay. This is the option supported by the Turanga iwi representatives, and reflects the implementation of their kaitiaki role in restoring the water of the bay and ensuring it is available for future generations to safely use for recreational and food-gathering purposes.

Specifically, Option 5 provides:

• Greater security against systems failure and hence a reduction in the chance of untreated discharges to Waikanae Stream or the coastal environment

• An improved capacity to cope with very high or increased flows, and

• A level of treatment whereby the options for removal of the discharge from the bay and the implementation of water recycling are significantly enhanced.

After passing through a functioning wetland system, the treated wastewater should be suitable for a wide range of industrial purposes, and a range of irrigation uses, eg for timber and fuel, fibre, pastoral farmland, and amenity and recreational plantings. After further treatment through a wood chip filter or similar, it should be available for the irrigation of some food producing crops and suitable for aquatic restoration purposes. A further innovative use of the recycled water could include the establishment of a kahikatea forest, designed to also provide a source of water for emergencies or alternative uses. Such fully-treated water should be suitable for using as a buffer to salt water intrusion into our vulnerable aquifers, either through natural infiltration or direct injection.

Because Option 5 recognises and provides for tangata whenua values, facilitates a reduction in discharges to the coastal environment, enhances options for wastewater recycling, and can be implemented in a timely and cost-effective fashion, it is likely to meet with a positive response from the commissioners who will hear the new set of resource consent applications.

By including consent applications for the components of Option 5, and identifying realistic conditions and timelines for implementation, GDC could well avoid the added expenses of having these applications challenged, or having to go through another series of similar applications and potential challenges, when such components are required.

GDC, iwi, landowners and the wider community will have to begin talking seriously about potential sites for such a suite of wastewater treatment processes and reuse options.

The Wastewater Management Committee’s decision to forward Options 3 and 5 to the council as preferred options for wider consultation reflects the recent public survey, where the preferences of 1183 respondents were 20 percent for Options 1 and 2, 25 percent for Option 3, 18 percent for Option 4, and 36 percent for Option 5.

In terms of survey reliability, it is useful to compare these results with those from 2000, when 22 percent of the 500 participants in a Digipoll survey voted to continue only with milliscreening, 35 percent to develop stabilisation ponds (at a cost of $200 per annum per household), and 38 percent to establish an activated sludge system (at a cost of $300 per household).

Several commentators have major concerns over the cost to ratepayers of the favoured wastewater treatment options. However, at $324 per annum for Option 3 and $383 per annum for Option 5, the difference to individual ratepayers will be about $1.15 per week — less than a third of the price of a cup of coffee.

I’d like to outline why I support Option 5 to proceed as the preferred option for the wastewater system upgrade.

While Option 3 provides a minimum which may or may not be acceptable in a historical context and to the current 2009 resource consent, Option 5 includes a system that is most likely to provide for removal of the discharge of human wastewater from the bay. This is the option supported by the Turanga iwi representatives, and reflects the implementation of their kaitiaki role in restoring the water of the bay and ensuring it is available for future generations to safely use for recreational and food-gathering purposes.

Specifically, Option 5 provides:

• Greater security against systems failure and hence a reduction in the chance of untreated discharges to Waikanae Stream or the coastal environment

• An improved capacity to cope with very high or increased flows, and

• A level of treatment whereby the options for removal of the discharge from the bay and the implementation of water recycling are significantly enhanced.

After passing through a functioning wetland system, the treated wastewater should be suitable for a wide range of industrial purposes, and a range of irrigation uses, eg for timber and fuel, fibre, pastoral farmland, and amenity and recreational plantings. After further treatment through a wood chip filter or similar, it should be available for the irrigation of some food producing crops and suitable for aquatic restoration purposes. A further innovative use of the recycled water could include the establishment of a kahikatea forest, designed to also provide a source of water for emergencies or alternative uses. Such fully-treated water should be suitable for using as a buffer to salt water intrusion into our vulnerable aquifers, either through natural infiltration or direct injection.

Because Option 5 recognises and provides for tangata whenua values, facilitates a reduction in discharges to the coastal environment, enhances options for wastewater recycling, and can be implemented in a timely and cost-effective fashion, it is likely to meet with a positive response from the commissioners who will hear the new set of resource consent applications.

By including consent applications for the components of Option 5, and identifying realistic conditions and timelines for implementation, GDC could well avoid the added expenses of having these applications challenged, or having to go through another series of similar applications and potential challenges, when such components are required.

GDC, iwi, landowners and the wider community will have to begin talking seriously about potential sites for such a suite of wastewater treatment processes and reuse options.

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