Over in Napier, the good life is marred only by “pests” who complain that the Mayor and Councillors are sabotaging the half-ward system and ignoring the plight of the city’s sizable poor population … two phenomena that are not disconnected.

As an interloper from faraway Havelock North, I’ve made a submission on the Napier ten-year plan, urging serious implementation of the ward system and noting that Napier appears to spend as much on its cemeteries and public toilets as it does on its low income residents.

But the “biggest ticket” item in the Napier LTCCP that I find alarming is the state of Napier’s sewage and stormwater systems. Here’s what I had to say (full submission here):

“As cheery and upbeat as the LTCCP documents are regarding all other aspects of the Napier good life, we find the extreme opposite in the discussions of Napier’s waste!

The NCC would have us consider that the cost of kerbside recycling is the paramount “waste” issue, when in fact the far more serious – and expensive – issues relate to managing Napier’s stormwater and sewage.

It goes well beyond the scope of this submission to comment fully on what appears to be the quite fragile and over-taxed state of Napier’s stormwater and sewage systems. The documents give the impression that NCC is triaging its spending against rising needs, as opposed to fronting up fully – and being honest with ratepayers – about the inherent risks and costs associated with living in a low-lying area that requires constant pumping of all wastes, posing public health risks as well as increasing threats to the integrity of the underlying aquifer that supplies drinking water.

From the LTCCP:

• Infill development, which is assumed to account for 53% of Napier’s growth in coming years, is projected to increase stormwater run-off three times.

• Although stormwater run-off is impacting the environmentally sensitive Ahuriri Estuary, industrial development is envisioned for the adjacent Lagoon Farm.

• Listing stormwater items in need of funding, the LTCCP observes: “Each of the items requires a significant expenditure exceeding six years of the accumulated annual stormwater pipe upgrading budget to achieve any significant benefit to the area.”

• Parts of Bayview, and all of Jervoistown and Meeanee, have no reticulated sewage systems (and no plans to provide such) and rely on on-site septic systems … in the face of more stringent regulation of on-site systems (many of which are known to be sub-standard) about to issue from the Regional Council, if not from central Government.

• Meantime, NCC hopefully awaits confirmation that an unproven Hastings waste treatment system, which has plenty of critics, will indeed pass muster and represent a solution that Napier can embrace.

• Says the LTCCP: “Both the Latham and Greenmeadows sewerage systems are overtaxed during periods of wet weather.”

• Referring to the difficulty of monitoring the degrading of pipes by wastewater and sewage, the LTCCP observes: “The relatively recent usage of in-line cameras has both provided the means to investigate, but has also revealed the potential extent of problems.”

• And commenting further on the system: “It should be noted that the proposed renewal budget, based on the current set of standard economical lives that is used, is not sufficient to meet the long-term decline in service potential.”

I could go on. The overall impression … the s**t could hit the fan at any time!

One wonders whether Councillors have even bothered to read this material, let alone appreciate its implications. Were I a Napier Councillor, this situation would terrify me. I would be demanding an outside review of Napier’s stormwater and wastewater systems. And by “outside review” I mean independent peer review by experts who are not presently on the NCC teat as employees or consultants. An independent “report card” should be issued to the public.

These systems appear neglected, and their improvement under-funded, while this Council stands by and asserts its financial prudence. These are arguably the most vital systems and services that NCC provides its residents. If they are literally “going under,” the Mayor and Councillors should be held accountable, and of course the LTCCP spending levels should be modified accordingly.

Hey, but meantime, let’s spend $1 million for sprucing up Marineland.”

Tom Belford

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3 Comments

  1. Well said Tom, and as well of this no one seems particularly concerned about a 50 – 60 unit development up on the Hill. And we all know what flows down hill.

  2. Yes – a big issue that does need urgent attention. Having watched over 35 years kids of our street (ours included) regularly have enormous fun paddling, boogie boarding, rowing boats, and after the most recent event the locals with their table and chairs in the middle of it sipping wine ( to stop the hoons driving through and getting stuck and sending waves into low lying houses) every time the street goes hip deep under water after rain bombs, gives an idea of the problem. After prolonged heavy rain guess what we smell! Youv'e got it- sewage!!! The stormwater pipes of our street have been upgraded but it can still flood. Now with the infill developments there are new flood prone areas that were OK before. With the Park Estate development on land which has been raised considerably in preperation for the development we now have a new problem for the residents along Westminister Avenue and vicinities. So far fortunately we have not had sickness but the risk lurks. I will be one of the "pests" on Wednesday at NCC hearings although my susmission only briefly touches on the issue but the more people who get on board the better. The new wastwater standards proposal document is available from the Ministry in hard copy and on their website. It is up to us all to push for it to be actioned. Hopefully the HBRC will put their own set of standards into action and demand compliance in the near future while the NSWW are delayed.

  3. [Edited] With the zealous support of Mayor Barbara Arnott (when a councillor, along with the compliant supporting councillors Kathy Furlong and Dave Pipe etc) Napier City Council splashed-out over $9 million on upgrading the Fish Tank – recently reported to be costing ratepayers over $12,000 per week to keep going. Now in need of a $500,000 roof repair job and with no scheduled preventive maintainence having been carried out, the aquarium looks set to become a millstone around Napier ratepayers necks for many, many years to come!

    If Napier Council had stuck to its knitting-core business, after all what we irate- payers pay our rates for? And kept its nose out of the private business sector. It would have all the money to put into the much needed "essential services" Diane and Tom mention, absolutely essential ground services etc, without having to raise endless costly loans. Conditions in Jervoistown, Bayview and HB coastal areas are akin or, at times, exactly the same as SQUALID out-bush Third World countries!

    Seriously, as any rates increases are largely unsustainable for the majority of people on fixed to diminishing incomes, Councils should NEVER be in the business in of putting huge amounts of ratepayers' money into RISKY business ventures. For that, I sincerely hope the NEW Minister of Local Government will introduce an ACT of Parliament to hold mayors and councillors "personally financially accountable" (no different to the Code for Company Directors), not just simply at the ballot box.

    In the real world, foisting a legacy of "public debt" on Napier's and Hastings' future generations is nothing short of criminal.

    Would the Mayor and Councillors of our Twin Cities risk doing it with their very own money? Yea right !

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