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Wairoa In Focus: Mayor's column 29/03/18

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has taken the opportunity to submit feedback to us regarding the enhancement of Wairoa’s CBD.

We will be extending our submission cut-off period for feedback until after Easter. If you still have ideas, or a vision for this project, please let us know.

You can visit our offices in Queen Street, the Wairoa library, the Wairoa i-SITE, Osler’s Bakery or AFFCO Wairoa (if you work there) to share your feedback.

Council is planning to engage with the community again in a public forum, regarding this project, so please keep an eye out for dates.

Secondly, there has been a lot of media attention recently about the wastewater outlet pipe, so I thought I would clarify some issues.

This is about treated wastewater. Raw sewage is not being released into the river at the outlet pipe and those that continue to say this are simply wrong.

We are well aware of the issues of our wastewater system and we have spent the last year engaging with our community via the wastewater stakeholder group, community meetings and hui.

The work we are doing to look at our new consent is about long-term, sustainable and affordable solutions for Wairoa.

We have been cooperating with the HBRC, DoC, HBDHB and the Ministry of Health. So, we are working to ensure that there is no significant effect to public health and the environment.

Council acknowledges that it needs to minimise, as much as possible, the impact we have on our environment and I want to commend the work that the stakeholder group did to bring good, practicable options to Council to look at how we manage our wastewater now and into the future.

Let me be clear, this issue affects us all and we all have a role to play in finding the best solution for managing our wastewater; solutions that are sustainable and affordable.

We know that our wastewater system needs to be upgraded, we know this is going to take some time and is going to be a cost to our community.

Simply putting a band aid on a bigger problem won’t solve the issue. It might last for a year or two, and it might cost us more to put another band aid on it.

If I had a magic wand, I would pour millions of dollars into getting our whole wastewater system upgraded, but I don’t, and our community certainly doesn’t.

We have to make sure our solutions are practical, sustainable and affordable.

We are well aware of the issues with our wastewater system. We have spent months and months engaging with the community to come up with some really good solutions.

We can certainly implement a quick fix but we’ve learnt from Central Hawke’s Bay, where their ratepayers potentially now face an $11 million to $20 million bill to fix their wastewater system.

Industry experts carried out an assessment of our oxidation ponds last December and stated that the ponds were being managed and operated appropriately.

Their report states: “this pond requires desludging, but given that it is not causing any issues, it is sensible to defer this until such time that the application for the new resource consent is completed; and any works at the WWTP can be integrated with any upgrading works. Good Earth Matters is satisfied that the need for desludging is having minimal impact on overall system performance”.

The options going forward are the best options for our community now and into the future. Our problem isn’t just a Wairoa problem it’s a nationwide issue.

We also invited locals who have aired their concerns on social media to come and meet with us so that we can show them the site and talk through the issues to ensure they have all the information and facts, but they have refused our invitation.

On a final note, I will be away from my regular, weekly Mayoral sessions with the public for a couple of weeks after spending a brief time in hospital recently.

If you have any queries, do not hesitate to call the front office. I would really like to thank the Deputy Mayor and Councillors for carrying on with business as usual while I was away.

I’ve still been doing work from
home, and you can still contact me via email or phone.

28 June 2018

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