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.
This is Part 3 of a 3-part case study.
Part I introduced the Matamata-Piako District Council, Greenlea Premier Meats and Fonterra’s strategic and pragmatic approach to upgrading the town’s waste water treatment plant. Young identified the three successful strategies other councils need to adopt to avoid environmental disaster, local authority fiscal blowout and commercial collaboration.
In Part II Young identified the seven strategies adopted and incorporated by all parties to bring about the successful build and implementation of the new waste water treatment plant.
Young is quick to point out that ‘selective adoption and implementation’ will result in ultimate failure. “Councils and business can’t just implement the bits they like and leave out what they don’t” Young said, “each strategy relies on the integrity of those supporting it; being selective will result in environmental disaster and fiscal mess”
So what are the steps necessary to implement when waste water discharge and effluent hits the fan?
1. Man-up and take it on the chin; avoid blame
In each ‘failure’ Young’s research points to councils’ due diligence being undertaken without adequate and expert input from professionals who make their living measuring, monitoring, designing and providing advice in the specialist subject of waste water treatment and effluent discharge.
When something goes wrong councillors are too quick to make press statements without first making sure they have all the facts and they know what they are talking about.
“Everyone understands a politician’s survival instinct is to blame someone else when something goes wrong. It’s coded into their DNA. But as soon as a politician opens their mouth they start beating up industries. And then the lawyers come out swinging because their client has been attacked. No one wins”
The sooner fault is acknowledged the sooner everyone can move forward towards resolution.
2. Cancel all witch hunts
As everyone knows, witch-hunts do not solve problems, instead they waste time, money and resources.
It is more important to understand what went wrong both to prevent it from recurring and to implement strategies for better future management of the issue.
To quote an early 1990s New Zealand Dairy Group CEO “let us get to the bottom of the problem and get it fixed, if it still seems relevant after that perhaps we will have a witch-hunt.”
Good advice forgotten today.
In Young’s opinion waste water treatment and effluent management disasters can be avoided through the implementation of one very simple tenet – measurement. As he says “the answer is very simple ... you cannot manage what you do not measure!”
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.
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