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Three waters cash won’t fix ageing pipes

A leak from a burst water pipe in Carterton. The district council has plans to upgrade mains in the town, but the recent stimulus package will not cover the bill. PHOTO/SUPPLIED



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Work has started on replacing century-old piping in Carterton, 18 years after the work was first earmarked.

Design on a 3.2km section of piping between the Pembroke and High Sts intersection to the wastewater treatment plant on Dalefield Rd is underway, a report to the district council says.

The plumbing job, first planned in 2002, is an example of the water infrastructure work highlighted in the Three Waters review.

Even so, not all the work on the mains can be dealt with from a $1.84 million water stimulus package from central government.

Only one part, a 750m stretch from the council’s sewage plant to State Highway 2, can be considered.

Carterton councillors will today debate the merits of 10 potential projects earmarked for its delivery plan for the review.

Councillors debated the decision to sign a Memorandum of Understanding [MoU] with the Department of Internal Affairs [DIA] last month.

Councils have been asked to follow up their MoUs with a delivery plan by the end of this month.

A staff paper has reached the committee stage.

The report, by infrastructure chief Dave Gittings, details 10 projects – five primary and five secondary initiatives – that the money could be diverted to.

Carterton District Council [CDC] added further criteria to its list, emphasising the need for projects to create jobs, long-term benefit for Carterton residents, minimise future planned rating increases, and enhance water assets.

All 67 eligible councils across New Zealand ultimately signed the MoU on the proposals.

It allows each council access to funding for new projects to be completed by March 2022.

The long-term pitch was to encourage councils towards shared water services.

However, across the country, some councillors and experts have raised concerns that the water reforms are a “trojan horse” for much wider reforms.

Last week, councillor Tina Nixon of neighbouring Masterton said the plans may end in Wairarapa councils being “forced down the track of amalgamation”.

The initial package has been promoted as a “no strings attached” deal.

Carterton’s council would submit a delivery plan based on the recommendations of the committee.

Writing and following a delivery plan were among the DIA’s conditions for the money.

It also said councils could not use the money for projects already funded in their 2020/21 Annual Plan.

For Carterton, this means no direct funding for its multi-million-dollar wastewater treatment plant upgrade, and not enough to solve its long-running mains issue.

Gittings said the complexity of the project running down a state highway, and the age of the pipes, means only part of the replacement could be considered now.

“At the moment, the pipe runs right down the middle of the state highway. What we’re looking at in the design phase, is to have two pipes.

“So, in future, you would have much easier access, so you don’t have to go down the centre of the road.”

He said the stretch from the highway to the plant was easier, as it was a single pipe and did not need the level of main road closure as the section into the town.

“With the grant funding, we can move one of those sections forward.

“From Daleton along to the state highway, it’s the easiest one to do as it’s a single pipe. It would be too much of a hit to do all at once.”

Gittings said wastewater infrastructure was “a really expensive asset for the council”.

“It’s not very sexy, no one sees them, it’s all underground.

“There’s an expectation, and rightly so, that you flush the toilet, it disappears, you turn on the tap and the water comes on.

“But there’s a lot that happens to ensure that happens. And it’s expensive.”

DIA wants councils to submit completed funding agreements and delivery plans by September 30. CDC’s infrastructure committee meets today, from 8.30am.


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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