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Councillor slams cheapest wastewater option

DISTRICT councillor Larry Foster yesterday attacked the inclusion of a “cheapest” option for Gisborne city’s wastewater upgrade project.

Iwi representatives were also disappointed at three more options being added to the five for pre-consultation.

Mr Foster said the public would go for option five at a cost of $23 million. The option is to install a clarifier and UV treatment at the Bank street site to clean the water.

It would require a variation to the current rescource consent, which requires a second BTF (biological trickling filter plant) to be added.

Option five does not include a second BTF.

The wastewater management committee was discussing the pre-consultation process to be carried out for the upgrade.

District council lifelines director David Wilson said there would be two consultation processes.

The five options would be consulted on as part of the What’s the Future Tairawhiti pre-consultation process.

In December the council would decide on a preferred option to be consulted on for inclusion in the long-term plan to be completed by June 30.

Mr Foster asked why an option that was not going to comply with the council’s resource consent and required a variation had been included.

The Wastewater Options Review group had been working and offering options before this one was added.

“Because it is so cheap compared with the others it sends out the wrong message,” he said.

Mr Wilson said it was a decision from the council to include that option. The concept came from staff who were able to consider options outside the consent process.

Practical optionsThe staff had to include all practical options and it was up to the council to make the decision.

Mr Foster said people would not take the time to research all the options. It was almost a foregone conclusion the cheapest would be chosen.

Iwi representative Le Roy Pardoe said this option was not supported by iwi. Was that going to be explained to people as part of the consultation?

Mr Wilson said it was something that staff had flagged the whole way through. They were happy to take that feedback through the consultation process.

Dr Bruce Duncan said this option was not evidence-based; it was purely a financial one. How would that be portrayed in the consultation.?

Committee chairman Bill Burdett said he did not think the staff’s integrity should be questioned. There had been quite a bit of work on it. It was not just a “throw-in”.

Not questioning integrityDr Duncan said he was not questioning staff integrity. He was questioning how the fact these options were not equal was going to be portrayed. It was easy to have five options but cost was only one of the considerations to be made.

Mr Wilson said that was one of the reasons a wastewater specific consultation package was being developed. The package was very much about showing the benefits and limitations of the options.

Pene Brown said iwi would want to do their own consultation. The recommendation to the council should come from the wastewater management committee.

Ronald Nepe said he would not have expected these things to come out of the blue as they had. To go to a council meeting and hear the extra options made him wonder what use the wastewater committee was.

“We are here for a role,” he said. “We do it diligently and then we get to a meeting and find people have come up with a different decision. I don’t know how that works.”

Mr Burdett said he hoped that by the time they got to December they would have a genuine recommendation that was supported by iwi.

Amber Dunn said having an option supported by the wastewater management committee would be better. It would show the unity around the table between the council and iwi.

Mr Wilson said staff would ensure that tangata whenua feedback was included in the consultation.

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