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Use of recycled water becoming normal

Opinion Piece

In response to opinion pieces from Clive Bibby and Frank Murphy, I wish to qualify a few comments/assumptions made since the release of the chamber’s water document.

It is well accepted that there is increasing global concern regarding water. New Zealand is no exception, and neither is Gisborne. With climate change, we are going to need more and more water.

Locally our Gisborne District Council-managed wastewater treatment plant pumps 5 million cubic metres of semi-treated wastewater per year (at great cost) directly into the ocean.

This thought, and the fact the council is required to investigate alternative use or disposal, prompted a chamber conversation about the options — especially with the advancements in science, technology and understanding since the pipe was laid out into Poverty Bay. The use of recycled water is fast becoming the norm across many developed countries.

The chamber is not advocating wastewater be pumped directly on to export produce. We are considering the potential for systems such as in-ground root watering, the making of silage, etc.

In the mix we also see the potential and possibility of a wetland system.

If local horticultural production is to increase, we need to find the best way to provide the significant additional volumes of water required to achieve this.

Regardless of what the writers state, the chamber has and continues to be in close collaboration with key groups and individuals. Importantly, wider community engagement and interest will follow.

Activate Tairawhiti last week held an excellent Circular Economy Conference. As we learnt from the various guest speakers presenting, times have changed and we need to better understand and address this water issue.

All water is potential gold.

Terry Sheldrake, Gisborne Chamber of Commerce chief executive