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DrainWise project progressing well

Opinion Piece

An update for councillors last week on the DrainWise programme, which aims to reduce wastewater overflows on to properties and into the city’s rivers and coastal areas during wet weather, says work for the year to June 30, 2020 is progressing as planned.

The 2018-2028 Long Term Plan budgeted $26.85 million for this programme over the 10 years, with $20.8m for renewals and $6m to address stormwater issues on private properties. The project also includes $400,000 a year for operational costs.

In the background to this work, the council requires a resource consent for emergency wastewater discharges into rivers by July 2020 — with the DrainWise programme being the means to achieve the limits that will be set in the consent. The council has contracted specialist planning and technical consultants for assessments and consultation processes.

The report says the main reason these overflows are required is issues on private properties, where rainwater flows into the wastewater system by inflow (eg through gully traps) or infiltration (water seeping into broken pipes underground).

While the DrainWise team continues to upgrade public infrastructure, it is also looking for solutions that help reduce the problems on private property.

From January to June this year, compliance notices were sent out for illegal connections, solutions were designed for the first 10 private property stormwater projects, and five were constructed. A DrainWise education programme was launched in July.

Work to scope, design and implement public stormwater network extensions continues, along with property inspections, on-site meetings with affected homeowners and engagement with landlords/property managers. The team is developing a private wastewater lateral strategy, and standard operating procedures for compliance and enforcement. Major renewals and upgrades have been tendered, with proposals being evaluated. Capital works are ahead of schedule and projects for 2020/21 will be identified for engineering design.

The DrainWise team says it is receiving a high level of co-operation from property owners as it continues investigations into properties likely to contribute significantly to inflow issues.

Additional resource has been applied to homeowner negotiations for the implementation of public pipes on private properties — to try to fast-track this process.