Gisborne NEWS - from Deputy Mayor Rehette Stoltz

...from the Desk of: Rehette Stoltz Deputy Mayor Gisborne District Council (& member Tairawhiti District Health Board)

26 August 2017

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We had a marathon week at Council last week that ended in a 7-hour formal Council meeting with a 750 page agenda.


Debates were varied and sometimes heated and overall we had a very productive day. At this stage the most talked-about issue that we are dealing with is the Wastewater options that we will take out to our community for consultation. The details of where we are at have been covered extensively in the paper, so I won’t bore you with that. What I would like to bring to your attention is the process that we will follow to make a final decision.


A selected group of Councillors and Iwi representatives studied different Wastewater options for months. With the guidance from technical experts and experienced, knowledgeable staff they fine-tuned a raft of options down to three.


The scope of their investigation specified specifically that they identify options that will meet our resource consent conditions. Council voted on Thursday to take these options out to early public consultation. Staff also recommended two other options - one is the default condition that will come into play if we fail to show that we have considered all possible avenues to meet the consent conditions.


Council will start pre-consultation in a few months time, to gauge the community’s appetite for a specific option that will then be consulted on formally during the pre-Ten Year Plan consultation in April 2018. Options range from approximately $23M to $53M capital cost with operational cost ranging from $1.5M-$2M. Whichever way we go, it will be a substantial investment.


Obviously, we do not only have the Wastewater options to consider – think DrainWise, roading etc. and you realize that we need to look at all the projects as part of our bigger picture.


Roading is causing a lot of rural residents a major headache and needs urgent attention.


An issue of serious concern to many residents are the wet weather sewage overflows into our rivers. The costs associated with the DrainWise project – which will aim to stop these - are still unclear, but will be significant as well.


So where am I going with this? In order for us to make decisions that reflects the needs and values of our community, we need to listen to you. I hear a lot of feedback about people’s frustration with the feeling of not being heard by Council. Council follows the Local Government special consultative guidelines, and to complement this, we go above and beyond to start interacting with our communities earlier via pre-consultation.


This includes meetings throughout the district over the months of March and April before adopting the Ten Year Plan at the end of June, but these meetings are not always well attended. We receive heaps of good feedback via these channels, but there are still large numbers of residents that do not feel comfortable to engage in this way.


Council has in the past 5 years embarked on using Facebook and other social media channels and we interact with large groups of residents in this way. Another consultation avenue is via the Mayor and Councillors. We have regular phone, email or personal interactions with residents who raise concerns and float ideas with us. If you can think of ways how Council can interact better, please let us know.


We work for you and want to make sure everyone feels empowered and confident to raise an issue. Consultation means something different to each person, ... so please make sure you let us know on how you would like to be informed and consulted on these very important issues.


17 July 2017


I am sure that no will argue with me that Council agendas are usually on the boring side. Not this time around!


I can assure you that every single item on our Future Tairawhiti agenda for this Thursday is interesting, very important and possibly controversial. I will mention a few, but for more detail, download the agenda from the GDC website, or consult the hard copy in the GDC foyer.


We start off by looking at the Makauri Aquifer Recharge (MAR) trial currently happening. Staff is recommending future trials to answer all questions posed. Funding and governance options for a full Managed Aquifer Recharge are still being investigated.


As part of our preparation for our 2018-2028 Ten Year Plan, GDC is required to prepare a 30-year Infrastructure Strategy. We focus on the 3 waters (stormwater, wastewater and our drinking and irrigation water supplies), as well as on our flood protection (Waipaoa Flood Control, Ruatoria River Protection as well as Coastal Hazards Protection). Our Community Facilities are currently being reviewed and will be included at a later stage.


Questions in regards to our water supplies that we will ask are: Should we look into water metering and charging for residential properties? Should we look at our water storage capacity and plan to maybe enlarge the Sang Dam to its original capacity or should we consider building a new dam in future? This is also where the MAR comes in when we look at future irrigation security and protecting our water sources.


We will also ask if we should re-look at reticulation at Wainui and/or Makaraka and what that would mean for property owners as well as consider our ability to accommodate them in our current systems. We also ask questions about water and wastewater options for our townships. In regards to protection, several options are considered to protect our fertile agricultural soils, Ruatoria township as well as our coastal communities.


We are all aware of our city stormwater inundation and its effect on our ability to pipe our wastewater effectively to the treatment plant in very wet conditions.  Our current DrainWise project, that will aim to address our stormwater issues, is still being updated and streamlined by staff, and will be included at a later stage. In this report we look at options to reduce/illuminate our dry weather overflows.


How we treat and dispose of our Wastewater will be workshopped by Councillors after our meeting and we will consider the 3 options put forward by the Wastewater Options Review Group (WORG). We have to decide what options we will take to our community for consultation. We have several health, cultural and consent issues to take into account and balance that with our community’s ability to pay for it. For a thorough history on how we got to where we are today in regards to our wastewater, read Sheridan Gundry’s book, A Splendid Isolation, page 51-58.


We will take a look at possible options presented by Locales for the Observatory on Kaiti Hill and last but not least, we will discuss with the Tairawhiti Roads team, possible options to change the way we rate for different road users.


Possible options include reviewing and possibly adjusting our rating differentials to realistically reflect the impact of forestry (and other road users) on our roads as well as investigating the feasibility of a supplementary forestry levy for all logs collected at the port.


We have our work cut out for us. Please let us know your thoughts on these very important issues as we work towards making these decisions together as a community.