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Place in pecking order


I marvel at the faith some correspondents are exhibiting in the prospect of the Government’s proposed “3 Waters” structure magically solving all of Gisborne’s water problems.

There are essentially two aspects to the basic problem: determining the appropriate solutions to the issues, and obtaining the required funding to implement them.

We have been given no details of the methodology by which this new organisation will a) impose national or regional standards for sourcing, treatment and supply of drinking water or collection, treatment and disposal of “grey” water, or b) how funding will be allocated to each and every community to achieve this.

Consider this: our District Council has already made significant improvements in the treatment of grey water. It could well be the case that the new authority would be perfectly happy with the current practice of discharging outflow from our treatment plant into the ocean; UV treatment could be regarded as overkill.

More importantly, the necessity of discharging raw sewage into the rivers due to stormwater overload could be overcome by implementing a comprehensive reticulated stormwater system, complete with sumps and pumps if necessary, but at what cost? Would the new organisation stump up the cash for that?

Alternatively, perhaps a complete rebuild of the sewerage system might cope with the additional stormwater load; would there be cash for that?

The likelihood of Gisborne being anywhere near the top of the list for adequate funding for any of these things is (imho) pretty slim. We have seen, in respect of other facilities, or amenities, (eg our rail connection) that this remote outpost on the east coast seldom figures very high in the pecking order. Why should water be any different?

Peter Wooding

  1. Jeff says:

    This letter will give you some perspective on the plan.

  2. Phil Hunt, Picton says:

    The same would apply to many councils in the country.
    The squeaky wheel gets the oil.
    Peter’s summation is about where I would have put Gisborne, and several other (mainly smaller) councils . . . the next one South comes to mind.
    Here in Marlborough (mainly Picton and Blenheim) about $35 million has been spent in the four years we have been here. About $20 million in Picton on wastewater and the rest around Blenheim for new subdivisions, and to cope with heavier rainfall as well. Other local upgrades are for new reservoirs at three locations with new fresh-water reticulation to Renwick and improvements in Havelock. Since the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake, Seddon has been on a boil-water notice, so there is still work to do.
    You can see why many councils are not in accord with the blanket three-waters proposal. They are already spending vast amounts of money, and being dictated to by Government, who can’t get houses built – so how could they do any better with water?