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Council improves assessment of wastewater pipes

Waikato District Council’s knowledge of the state of its wastewater pipe network has been vastly improved following the first six months of its Wastewater Overflow Continual Improvement Programme.

About 45km of wastewater pipes have been cleaned and inspected via Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) camera in Raglan, Huntly, Ngaruawahia, Meremere and Te Kauwhata.

Council is using the CCTV data to assess the internal condition of the pipes and prioritise a programme of work to replace or repair pipes where the condition of them poses a risk of an overflow.

Intense cleaning has been required in 12km of the pipes because of significant deposits of silt, gravel, fat deposits, tree root damage and blockages.

A number of severely damaged pipes, caused by items like earthing rods or fence posts, in the network have been identified for immediate repair.

General Manager Service Delivery Tim Harty says the work done so far has shown Council that the Wastewater Overflow Continual Improvement Programme is incredibly important.

“The data received from CCTV inspections will give us a clearer picture of what needs to be done where, and allows us to prioritise any replacement or rehabilitation work

“This district-wide assessment into the condition of Council’s underground pipes is part of Council’s ongoing commitment to improving wastewater infrastructure so that we can minimise any wastewater overflows or leaks,” he says.

The public also has an important part to play in the objective of reducing wastewater spills in the district.

About 80% of wastewater overflows in the Waikato district from 2014-16 were caused by blockages.

The main causes of these blockages were foreign objects such as wipes, clothing, sanitary pads and nappies being flushed down toilets, and grease, oil and food scraps being poured down the kitchen sink.

Council has started to roll out a public education campaign that aims to inform the community that they should only flush toilet paper and dispose of grease in the dustbin.

Mr Harty says that if the public buy-in to messages contained in the education programme it’ll be a win-win situation for the council and the community.

“If the council and the public can work together to reduce the number of blockages in our wastewater network if will go a long way to achieve our goal of protecting our environment and ensuring our wastewater pipes are working more efficiently.”

A further 38km of wastewater pipes are scheduled to be cleaned and inspected during the 2017/18 financial year across the district.