7 factors identified in success of Matamata-Piako Waste Water Treatment System Case Study

Thursday 13 March 2014, 6:10PM
By Halo Biz

In preparation for the upcoming New Zealand Trade & Industrial Waste Forum being held in Hamilton, 9-11 April, Forum President Geoff Young highlights the importance and necessity for councils and commerce to work together collaboratively to protect the environment whilst permitting commercial industrial enterprises to add value to local communities without incurring extra ratepayer levies.

Part 1 - Matamata-Piako District Council Waste-Water Treatment System - an example worth study

New Zealand’s history books have plenty of stories where commerce and council become adversaries rather than allies when it comes to working together for mutual benefit showing respect for local people and local environment.  Examples abound demonstrating mismanagement and poor management, unwise business decisions and ecological disasters that should never have happened. 

President of the New Zealand Trade & Industrial Waste Forum, Geoff Young, identifies the following 7 essential ingredients effluent-producing commerce and councils need to factor into future due diligence in order for history to avoid repeating itself negatively.

1. Measure
You cannot manage what you do not measure.  Good information from data collection systems both at industrial discharge-to-sewer and the inlet-to-wastewater treatment plant are essential for economic management of effluent treatment.

2. Manage Costs
Economical management of costs.  Industrial discharge to sewer and all rate payer owned infrastructure comes at a cost and there need to be rules to ensure this cost is managed economically.

3. Align vision
Remove the ‘us-and-them’ adversarial stance.  Them-and-us paradigms maintained by some senior local and regional council staff has to go. It is clear for everyone to see that it is beneficial to all for industry and councils to communicate and work together. Adversarial discussion does not produce the cooperation from industry that our ratepayers and environment urgently requires. 

4. Remove the politics
Go beyond political rhetoric and get over the need for electoral brownie point accumulation.  Elected officials must consider carefully the full impact (financial, social, and environmental) on their town of “welcoming an industry in” without proper regard for ongoing reporting and management. 

5. Location! Location! Location!
Industries must choose their location wisely.  Two primary questions new-to-town industries must take into consideration are whether existing district utilities are sufficient to support their requirements and are they able to establish good working relationships with the relevant territorial authorities to ensure evolving trouble-free operation in the future?

6. Specialist Advice
Run the numbers beyond the dollars and seek specialist advice.  Meaningful, current and relevant data is vital to economic and environmental success:  you cannot manage what you do not measure is a singular and most important point. 

Elected councillors must look very hard at industry proposals and seek knowledgeable independent and specialist advice.  It is impossible to make decisions on millions of dollars of infrastructure about which you have no experience. 

Industrial effluent discharge and waste water treatment is a specialist profession based on learning.  Too often decisions are being made by people who have no qualifications or experience to make them. 

Unlike political appointments, waste water treatment specialists are not elected or voted into their jobs.  Instead, they spend years studying - just like lawyers, accountants, doctors and airline pilots.  Counsellors would not trust the safe arrival of their family into an aircraft where the pilot had been voted into the cockpit, yet they think nothing of entrusting the equally-precious environment into the hands of those who hold office based on winning a popularity contest.  Ill-informed decision-making has been proved time and time again to produce environmental and financial disaster.

7. Ownership Model
Cost of Ownership Model paradigm shift.  Projects must be based on a total cost of ownership rather than a lowest price conforming model.  The existing paradigm where council engineers are influenced and overruled by council accountants only interested in the cheapest price is outdated.  Historical evidence repeatedly proves this is false economic practice producing costly disasters funded by ratepayers. The “cheapest price” is rarely the least expensive option in the long-term. Major community infrastructure projects need to be designed with a 25 to 50 year life expectancy framework in mind.

The Matamata-Piako District Council, Greenlea Premier Meats & Fonterra worked collaboratively using a model similar to this 7 point structure to successfully upgrade the town’s water treatment plant.

The New Zealand Trade and Industrial Waste Forum (NZTIWF) is the bridge between industries, utility providers, regulatory authorities and service providers. The NZTIWF advocates strong communication, good science and strong problem solving networks.

The Forum brings all stakeholders to the table to the benefit of community and industry together.

There is no other organisation in the entire spectrum of New Zealand policy making that fulfils this task.

The Forum deserves support and respect. It is good for business. It is good for the community. It is good for our elected representatives. Help yourself, your industry, your community, your environment; support of The New Zealand Trade and Industrial Waste Forum and it will support you.

Membership is free.

[-ENDS- 817 WORDS]



Geoff Young
Silverdale Road
New Zealand

Ph 07-858-2101
Mob 021 079-6322