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Decision time on wastewater option

GISBORNE District Council’s wastewater management committee faces a crucial decision tomorrow: which of the five options for the multimillion-dollar upgrade of the city’s wastewater system it will back.

Its preferred option will be forwarded to the full council meeting on December 7, where the council must choose one of the five options that will then be included in the consultation process for the long-term plan.

Before the committee tomorrow will be a report from Wolfgang Kantz, the senior project manager for wastewater management options.

The committee will likely be told that responses received so far to a postal survey indicate there is strong support for the three options that would provide for an upgraded treatment system, combined with a 12-hectare wetland. The survey is now closed.

The committee earlier presented the council with three options for the upgrade. Option three, which is recommended by the wastewater options review group established by the council, includes a wetland and more conventional treatment mechanisms, with the aim of reducing and, if possible, stopping the discharge of wastewater into the bay.

The committee added two further options for the council’s consideration, both of which also included a wetland and upgraded treatment. However, when the options were presented to the council in August, it added two more from the staff, which are now listed as options one and two.

Both involve upgraded treatment systems but neither includes a wetland.

The first option would require a consent variation. The second is provided for in the consent if best endeavours by the council do not identify alternate use and disposal options.

The council has been consulting with the community on the options in a pre-consultation process that concludes today.

Preliminary outcomes of the pre-consultation process, which was carried out by 4 Sight Consultants, show a high level of support for the highest quality water quality options, which include a wetland.

Based on these preliminary results, approximately 80 percent of the 277 responses to a postal survey have chosen options three, four or five — the ones that include both upgraded treatment and a wetland.

Analysis of preliminary results indicates that higher income earners are over-represented when compared to the general population.

Updated survey results will be presented to the committee at tomorrow’s meeting.

Mr Kantz’s report says the council must make a decision on its preferred option at its December meeting in order to practically remain compliant with its existing resource consent.

The critical date is the end of December, 2018 by which time the necessary applications or notices will need to have been lodged with the intention of starting construction no later than December, 2019.

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