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8. Thames - What's In (Core Projects!)


"Stormwater - Ensuring that stormwater is controlled and disposed of, and when required treated, in order to protect people's health, safety and property" (Page 95 - Volume 1)

Well, there you are - I could not have put it any better myself. And yet these brand new councillors saw fit to suspend all Stormwater works for 2013/14 for the purpose of funding their election promises. Yes, that is true - you heard it here first. This outrageous decision was taken at the behest of the Mayor, and was one of many irrational decisions taken at that first meting on 6 December 2010.

As far as Thames is concerned, I have already laid out the effect of the proposal to move to 'district' funding of Stormwater in 2015/16 just when the $2.8m. Whitianga Town Centre Scheme comes to account. In other words - Thames has been paying for all of its works for a number of years while other areas have avoided this liability, and is then expected to help pay for the Whitianga upgrade on the rationale that it is "fairer"!. 

There is no further Thames expenditure on Stormwater planned until 2018/19 when a $2m. system upgrade is planned, along with $9m. of upgrades in all other areas. 


I have dealt previously and often with the inequity inherent in the "District" charging of wastewater since the famous decision taken in 2001 - there appears nothing to be done about that - in fact it seems to have simply given our neophyte councillors the courage to propose extending this outrageously unfair method of charging across all areas of "essential services' - excepting stormwater of course until 2015 it seems. T

The rationale that has been used all these years is that Thames would eventually, certainly within the next ten years need a new sewerage plant of the same gold-plated standard as those on the Eastern Seaboard. Well that suggestion was knocked on the head with an engineering report prepared by Beca that stated that the existing plant should not need replacing until at least 2040.  That certainly took the wind out of the sails of the pro-'District' charging group, but only temporarily. 

The removal of the proposed $51m. Thames plant and a $7m. upgrade for Whangamata from the current TYP has led to a substantial reduction in the capital works budget in the current TYP - though $14.5m. is allowed for expansions in Pauanui and Whtianga 2021/22. Nothing for Thames other than existing plant upgrades. The only other major is a $3.3m. plant for Coromandel in 2012/14. 


A $4m. upgrade to the Thames water infrastructure is planned over the period 2012/22 - the entire ten years - average $.4m, but could peak. Also a $.62m. upgrade to the Treatment Plant will proceed this year. The Elephant in the Kitchen is the Matatoki/Thames Valley project - $11.3m. in the Plan, but widely believed to cost a great deal more, depending on consents and the quality of water required to be supplied. 

Everyone should be aware that this is a legacy situation arising from the fact that the existing untreated supplies are cobbled together to say the least, but we are required to upgrade to town supply standards because of the fact that when the new water regulations were passed into law some years ago we were obliged to continue existing schemes, and upgrade as required - it is now required because the consents have run their course and WRC requires treated water to be supplied from an approved source. 

The $15m. Pauanui/Tairua water scheme starts this year, and should finish in 2015. This is another scheme that our Council wants to be 'District' funded on the grounds of 'unaffordibility'. The total hypocrisy of this proposal is seen in its full glory in regard to this particular scheme. Council wants to move to full 'District' funding of water this year just as the costs of this scheme come to account.

There is no plan to expand water metering, (currently only Thames, Coromandel and Pauanui), to disadvantage of those ratepayers. Councillors from other centres explicitly resisted any extension during the relevant discussions in 2011, and accordingly, the TYP talks about a "water meter investigation in Tairua using 'smart' meters on 25% of the properties".

What on earth this means remains opaque - it refers to the fact that "this approach may mitigate the installation of water meters to every property". This is 'Alice in Wonderland' stuff aimed at avoiding the need to make a decison for as long as posible. In the meantime,  Thames and Coromandel consumers pay twice as much for their water by volume than non-metered areas, and the latter continue to consume roughly 50% more water on average than the metered areas. You cannot blame staff for this situation - they are simply picking up on the political vibes, but it does show the denial mindset that has led to the disdavantage of Thames (and Coromandel) ratepayers. 

It is the combination of the infrastructure postponements and cancellations that have enabled Council to claim such wonderful success, and to fund all the 'Pet' projects that each councillor brought to the table. That is entirely as it should be, and no one can blame them for that. It is just a question of honesty, and there has not been a great deal of that while all the self-congratulation has been going on, and claims made by the Chief Executive that the staffing reductions are brought about by the "serious financial position" in which Council now finds itself.

This little calumny is now shown to be an outright lie!      




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Reader Comments (1)

noted under the sub heading of water that this current council is still pursuing providing potable water to Matatoki at some phenominal cost - and is currently charging a DCL of about $30,000 per new section created for treated water reticulated scheme [and yet there will be no way that amount would cover the actaul cost per rateable unit] - I am aware that one Councillor in the last Council pursued the idea of buying treated water from Hauraki District Council from their soon to be upgraded Kerepehi treatment plant- the treated water then being pumped back over to Puiriri using the existing infrastructure - 2 x300mm pipes under the Waihou River [ HDC draws water from the Puriri stream currently and pipes it across to Kerepehi I believe]
all it apparently needed was some goodwill on both parties -TCDC and HDC and some capital injection from TCDC - one Hell of alot cheaper proposal than pumping treated water from Thames -oh well another lost opportunity - hang is not Leach saying 'we are working closely to-gether' -HDC and TCDC?
And as for Tairua/Pauanui - I am lead to believe the treated water out of the new sewerage plant is of 'potable quality' [ who saw the photo's of engineers and staff drinking the treated water in the HH few years back-ask Gordon Reynolds] - just need the nitrogen content lowered or removed - beautiful drinking water being sprayed on the airfield/golf course and Kennedy Park. Cities around the world drink treated sewerage water - London being the most quoted city - and a EU requirement is that where sewerage plants discharge into rivers it MUST be UPSTREAM from the cities/towns water intakes. To pump such treated water to the Pauanui ratepayers would save millions in new infrastructure - after all isn't the Council 'in serious financial position' hence all the staff cuts?????

March 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercyclops

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