Central Hawke’s Bay District Council yesterday confirmed $68.5 million of investment in its wastewater treatment plants, as a significant step change in environmental, infrastructural and financial investment as part of deliberations on the 2021 – 2031 Long Term Plan.
The wastewater plant upgrades will see all discharges removed from waterways within 15 years, and treated wastewater irrigated to land.
A ‘mega-plant,’ will be established to pipe wastewater from Otane, Waipawa and Waipukurau for treatment and land-based discharge at a single site based in Waipawa. Upgrades will also be made to Porangahau, Te Paerahi and Takapau, resulting in improvements to treatment and the removal of discharges from waterways.
In late 2016, in the first weeks of the newly elected Council’s triennium, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council was prosecuted by the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and enforcement orders from the Environment Court were put in place for failed wastewater treatment plants in Waipawa and Waipukurau.
This was after the community had made more than $10 million of investment in the two wastewater treatment plants, a move that failed to make any improvement to wastewater discharges.
Central Hawke's Bay Mayor Alex Walker said today’s decision followed five-years of work, where respect and community were placed at the centre of Council’s decision making, to deliver 100-year wastewater solutions for the District’s future. This has been with a focus on achieving a thriving Central Hawke’s Bay, using a “no band-aids”, dig once, and planning for tomorrow approach.
“It was within a matter of weeks of becoming Mayor of our District in 2016, that the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council fined us for non-compliance of our wastewater treatment plants in Waipawa and Waipukurau," Mayor Walker said.
”That was gutting. Then to find out, and have to share with our community, that the huge investment they already made was essentially wasted, created the ultimate challenge for this Council. Moving beyond the huge monkey on our backs, we must now set up our district for a thriving future.”
The investment required will not come without significant affordability challenges for the community in the Long Term Plan, with costs of $17.5 million of debt servicing, and $10.8 million of depreciation costs being experienced over the first ten years of the Long Term Plan alone.
“We know and understand the result of this investment will be challenging, especially for those fixed and low-income families. We are pulling every financial lever available to us – from trade waste to development contributions, to ensure that our existing connected ratepayers only pay for the services they fairly receive”, Mayor Walker added.
Councillor and Chair of Council’s Finance and Infrastructure Committee Brent Muggeridge noted Council’s approach to wastewater was the responsible one to be taking.
It sought to achieve long-term benefits to those immediately connected to the plants, along with the wider community. It also aimed to lock in a future approach for wastewater upgrades, in light of Central Government’s Three Waters Reform Programme which was currently underway.
Councillor Muggeridge said: “There have been a couple of attempts in the past to get our wastewater plants right – and this new approach creates a whole step change in the future environmental, infrastructural and financial investment we are making for our community to get it right.
“While those who are connected to the services are directly paying for those services, the Central Government Three Waters Reform Programme, currently underway, creates a unique opportunity in the future to potentially reduce costs to our community, but lock in our programme of wastewater investment for the future.”
Since 2018, Council has consulted with the community on a range of wastewater treatment options as part of #thebigwaterstory. This process included focussed community working groups, specialist panels of technical experts, and focussed hui with tangata whenua.
Council also undertook wide-ranging pre-engagement in July 2020, as part of preparations for the 2021 – 2031 Long Term Plan and further detailed consultation in March 2021, on plans to deliver the required wastewater upgrades.
Planning our Wastewater Upgrades was one of four challenges that Council consulted the community on, as part of the Long Term Plan 2021 -2031, and one of a number of matters Council was considering as part of its Long Term Plan 2021 – 2031 deliberations.
The full Long Term Plan 2021 – 2031 will be presented to Council for adoption on June 17, 2021.
For more information on the detailed wastewater works that will occur, visit the CHB District Council website: https://bit.ly/3bpgyNy
Authorised by Chief Executive: Monique Davidson
Monique Davidson, Chief Executive | T 06 857 8060, M 027 422 9977
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14 May 2021
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