At a hearing on the Waikato District Council’s Annual Plan wastewater services consultation today, engineering consultancy Jacobs told the Council that its wastewater network was prone to blockages with foreign objects because it was in poor condition with low velocity flows, and with capacity issues during wet weather.
The Jacobs presentation provided an update on the wastewater network investigations currently being undertaken to identify the issues that are causing overflows from the district’s wastewater network and came ahead of a full report expected from the consultancy in several weeks’ time.
Jacobs Business Leader for Waikato and Bay of Plenty, Ian Garside, said the final report would likely contain a range of recommendations ranging from accelerating public education and continuing the current cleaning programme as a high priority, to upgrading the computer monitoring system and undertaking capacity upgrades and high-risk pipe renewals.
During a Council discussion following the presentation, the Council’s General Manager Strategy and Support Tony Whittaker said that the information didn’t change the current options before the Council which would either allow for the resources to develop new wastewater services plans for the Long Term Plan consultation in 2018 (under Options 2 or 3) or not (under Option 1).
Option 1 is aimed at mitigating key overflow risks and separating wastewater operations in line with Ministry of Health best practice guidelines. Option 2 includes the preparation of long term plans to protect waterways and environmentally sensitive areas, and Option 3 includes the preparation of long term plans for a district-wide ‘continuous improvement programme’.
During the day the Council heard presentations in support of 14 submissions on its Annual Plan consultation. Rates affordability, the need for community education about blockages and the level of information available from the 2016 Jacobs report were common themes in several of the presentations.
The Council agreed to receive three late submissions bringing the total number of submissions received to 466 with most in favour of either Option 1 (42%) or Option 2 (41%).
The Council will continue deliberations on the results of its Annual Plan consultation tomorrow (Thursday 1 June) in order to come to a recommendation for a final decision at an extraordinary Council meeting on Wednesday 28 June.
Proposed changes to targeted wastewater rates in the Council’s Annual Plan will see targeted wastewater rates increase by between $47 and $254 depending on property location and the option chosen. The changes are complicated by the fact that the Council is still in the process of moving from five different wastewater rates throughout the district to a single district-wide rate that will be introduced in the coming year.
Not all Waikato district ratepayers are affected by the decision as 22,000 ratepayers are on septic tanks and are not connected to a wastewater system.
General rates are set to rise by less than 3% and other targeted rates will follow the rate of inflation.
Ratepayers can check the impact on their individual rates with an online rates calculator on the Council’s website at www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/rid.
The decision to consult ratepayers about an expanded programme of wastewater works follows criticism of the Council last year after spills closed Raglan Harbour three times in a matter of four months.
For more information please contact:
Senior Communications Advisor
Waikato District Council
07 824 8633