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$2.25m for wastewater

PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Wastewater work flush with $2.25m

A Masterton mother is potty-training her child on a portaloo, thanks to the district’s wastewater woes.

Masterton councillor Gary Caffell made the revelation at last week’s full council meeting during a discussion on how to best use the Government’s $3.88 million Three Waters ‘Better Off’ Funding package.

The council signed off an application to use $2.25m of the fund on targeted wastewater renewals, and the remainder on a range of smaller projects.

But Caffell and councillors Tim Nelson and Bex Johnson wanted the full amount spent on wastewater renewals.

Nelson, who raised an amendment to do so, said the wastewater investment was “urgent many years ago, and it is urgent now”.

“I think this is the only way it should be spent.”

Earlier this year, 20 portaloos were placed at properties in Cockburn St, Colombo Rd, Stout St, Ballance St, and Vogel Cres due to sewage backing up after periods of heavy rain.

“These guys have been living in essentially third world conditions,” Nelson said.

His amendment asked for $3.88m to go toward targeted wastewater renewals for two years and to update the district’s wastewater management strategy and investigate alternative options.

He also requested a detailed report from council staff on wastewater network overflows over the past 10 years.

Caffell and Johnson supported Nelson’s amendment, but it failed to win over the majority of elected members.

Instead, the remaining councillors voted to spend $2.25m on targeted wastewater renewals and the remainder on other initiatives as per the council staff recommendation.

This original motion was updated to include Nelson’s request for a detailed wastewater report and updated management plan.

When discussing the funding, council chief executive David Hopman made it clear that the $2.25m in targeted wastewater renewals could be achieved within two years, on top of the already budgeted $1.6m in the Annual Plan.

It would likely be “a struggle” to spend any further funding in that time due to contractor availability, he said.

The remaining $1.63m of ‘Better Off’ funding would be used for: mana whenua partnerships and climate resilience projects [$575k]; Pukaha National Wildlife Centre development project [$335k]; biodiversity planting and fish passages [$200k], and to pay for a climate change activator for three years [$250k].

The money would also fund a splash pad feasibility assessment, a business case for active transport routes, and an air quality business case.

Further ‘Better Off’ money to the tune of $11.65m would be made available to Masterton District Council in 2024.

Accepting money from the fund does not commit the council to the Three Waters reform process. – NZLDR

  • Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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