A recap on Tuesday’s committee From Auckland Council: Environment and Community Committee approves forward work programme Auckland Council’s Environment and Community Committee met today with business including the approval … Continue reading Environment and Community Committee Digests – March 2017
Review under way
From Auckland Council
Water supply safe, reporting process under review
Watercare’s decision to close two water supply lakes in the Hunua Ranges in May 2014 after traces of herbicide (metsulfuron-methyl) were detected has been the subject of media reports this morning.
Auckland Council CE Stephen Town is confident public safety was never at risk but is reviewing the reporting procedures around potential drinking water contamination.
“I am confident that proper safety procedures were in place and were followed by the parties concerned.
“Watercare took all steps required to ensure that neither water quality nor water supply were put at risk.
“There remains a concern about who should have been informed of these events and when, and whether this should have been made public at the time.
“I will therefore undertake a review of council’s reporting procedures.
“Our organisation must be as open and transparent as possible – and that includes matters within the wider Auckland Council family that are in the public interest,” he says.
And still my water when it comes in from the Waikato smells like a swimming pool…
The Herald or Watercare themselves?
A week ago I critiqued Watercare (who provide our fresh and waster water services in Auckland) on their decision around a recycled storm-water scheme in Stonefields. You can read it here: Patch Protecting or Genuine Concerns?
This morning I noticed (and a few others) the editorial for the Herald this morning commenting again on the recycled storm-water scheme. Lets take a look bit by bit from the editorial this morning shall we?
From the NZ Herald
4:15 AM Thursday Apr 10, 2014
Stonefields idea would be money down the drain.
Stonefields, a village-style residential development in what was the Mt Wellington quarry, has branded itself with environmental “sustainability”. The basis of that brand was a dual water supply. Every house built so far has both a drinking-water supply and a “third pipe”, bringing surface water from a central reservoir to toilets and outside taps. The system may have saved water from the metropolitan supplier, Watercare Services, but saving water is not the supplier’s prime concern.
Many, in fact, will suspect the monopoly supplier’s refusal to operate Stonefields’ scheme as intended is motivated by the simple desire to maximise its revenue. Not so, says Watercare. The scheme, it says, would have cost Stonefields residents more than they will pay for the normal water supply. And since the groundwater collected for the third pipe would not have been treated to the same standard, it would have been charging those residents more for a supply of lower quality.Common sense is probably on the side of Watercare. Surface run-off, especially from roads, is polluted. It was going to have to be treated as it was pumped from Stonefields’ collection tank to the reservoir, though not to a drinkable standard. The company says the cost of collection, treatment and pumping would have resulted in Stonefields residents paying five times the cost of Auckland’s potable water. And most of the third-pipe water would be flushed into the same second pipe, where it would need sewage treatment and disposal
“Many, in fact, will suspect the monopoly supplier’s refusal to operate Stonefields’ scheme as intended is motivated by the simple desire to maximise its revenue.” When you read the rest of the editorial I wonder but not help that is “bending the truth” to a wide degree.
What would be nice if the editorial posted some hard figures on the actual cost Watercare is purporting for the third pipe recycled storm-water scheme. Costs that include both the set and operations of such a facility in comparison to the normal set up we already get. Then for good measure some comparative costs from overseas as well as the private sector to see if the scheme is not value for money as Watercare (and the Herald) claim
I also note saving water is not Watercare’s main concern. Well no if it is out to maximise income and profits which is telling as we further get down the editorial.
Cost is not the only consideration. Enthusiasts for third-pipe water conservation ought to consider what would be lost. This is a country in which the water is safe to drink. To slake a thirst, we turn on the nearest tap without a qualm. That would change if not all piped water could be trusted. The outside taps at Stonefields were to carry a sign that the water was not safe to drink. Do we really want that?
The former Auckland City Council ought to have thought of all these practicalities before it invoked principles of sustainability and made third-pipe reticulation a feature of Stonefields’ development consent. Its own water retailer, Metrowater, was going to run the system. But for the Super City’s creation, and the bulk supplier’s takeover of the whole system, the true costs of “sustainability” might never have been known.
I assume whoever wrote this has never been around much as plenty of outside taps (not drinking fountains) even in urban Auckland carry the Do Not Drink sign above the said tap. And can someone tell me – who races to the garden hose and drinks out of it – regularly? So a really weak excuse here in that section of the editorial.
Thanks to the Waikato River, Auckland will never be short of water. There is no point conserving the water for its own sake if it must be replaced by a costly supply of inferior standard, no matter how interesting or exciting the environmental engineering involved.
I am quite sure the people of the Waikato – especially those who use or treasure the river will be quite comforted that Auckland will never be short of water thanks to Watercare drawing water from there and then pumping it to Auckland after it treated – NOT. I am aware Watercare are seeking consent to double the amount of water intake from the Waikato River to pump into a growing Auckland. This consent process has riled the people of the Waikato as the extra intake will no doubt put strain on New Zealand’s longest river. It is of note the lower Waikato is reliant on rainfall, Lake Taupo and the Waipa River for its water flow – and it is certainly not unlimited either. Just look what happens when our South Island hydro stations get dry years and the knock on effects downstream…
Now if you want a contradiction then check this last bit from the editorial
More water falls on Auckland than the city can use. Only a fraction of Stonefields’ storm water was to be channelled into the third pipe. Most would have drained to the Tamaki inlet. Reducing stormwater pollution of the sea around Auckland is the real challenge. Collecting tanks and treatment may be the answer, and if the water can be put to a cost-effective use, all the better. But recycling for a needless purpose at greater cost is not sustainable.
Okay so more water falls on Auckland than we can use yet we get 10% of our total supply from the Waikato with Watercare wanting to increase that to 18% of total supply. Auckland also in 1994 suffered a drought which eventually led to the Waikato pipeline being built in the first place so that Auckland would not be faced with a similar situation again. So which way is it? We get enough rain that we do not need the Waikato, or is Auckland that large that we need the Waikato to supplement our dams.
In any case the real question that begs to be asked is ‘who actually wrote the editorial?’ Watercare or the NZ Herald themselves…
NIMBYism Striking Back
I noticed this cropped up in the Manukau Courier this morning via the Stuff Website:
Watercare has received 468 submissions from Mangere Bridge people and groups ahead of public hearings on its “central interceptor” project.
The feedback makes up the bulk of the 752 submissions on the project’s resource consent applications.
The interceptor, a 13km underground tunnel, will take up to two million cubic metres of sewage and stormwater to the Mangere treatment plant every year.
It will also include 6km of linking sewers and create a long-term replacement for an ageing 7km tunnel section – the Manukau Siphon – near the plant.
But Mangere Bridge residents say those improvements will come at a cost to the environment.
Many of their submissions were completed on forms distributed throughout the community by the Mangere Bridge Residents and Ratepayers Association.
The form says the proposal could have dire effects for the water quality of the harbour and birds roosting in the area.
“It is not good ecological practice to transfer large amounts of water from its natural catchments to a shallow enclosed harbour with finite capacity to receive it,” the form says.
Te Akitai Waiohua Waka Taua Trust, which is associated with Pukaki Marae, has also lodged numerous submissions against the proposal.
The trust says there has been insufficient consultation with tangata whenua regarding stormwater discharge, air discharge, earthworks and coastal structures.
But Watercare chief executive Mark Ford says his organisation has a “strong record” of community consultation on major projects such as this one.
I’ll take the word of Mark Ford over the Trust and Resident’s Ratepayer’s Association on reflection of consultation “issues” with Maori Trusts, and Resident and Ratepayers Associations pigeon holing debates/feedback with Pro-Forma forms as seen in the Unitary Plan debate.
But my question to the objectors is: Where is all the waste going to go for treatment?
- We have an extra million people and subsequent urban development to support it on its way.
- Our waste water infrastructure needs upgrading including expanding the Mangere Waste Water Plant.
- There will be later on a second treatment plant in Drury with an outfall again in the Manukau Harbour to deal with waste water in the Southern Rural Urban Boundary area.
- We have to stop the overflow of the sewerage pipes in the isthmus area spilling untreated sewerage into harbours.
- Some waste water is being diverted to the North Shore plant for treatment.
- And the Mangere Plant is state of the art with its Bio Reactors that are extremely efficient in treating our waste water which will be expanded
The simple answer is the waste-water is best suited to Mangere at this point in time along with other current and proposal plants. There is simply no where else to dump treated waste-water from the advanced plant that will have minimal effects on the actual physical environment.
From the article again
The central interceptor proposal reflects international best practice and will save Auckland more than $500m going forward, Mr Ford says.
Major upgrades are also being planned for the Mangere treatment plant to address Auckland’s wastewater needs.
“These will ensure continued protection of the Manukau Harbour and enable the Mangere wastewater treatment plant to continue to operate within its current discharge loads into the future.”
Watercare also intends to divert the wastewater flows of about 75,000 existing households from Mangere to a plant in Rosedale by constructing another tunnel from west Auckland to the North Shore.
Unless you want the open oxidation ponds and sludge lagoon again as a method of treating our crap I’d suggest you let Watercare carry on unimpeded.