Funding Allocation On The Table For Mahia Beach Community Wastewater

Friday 28 October 2011, 7:02PM
By Wairoa District Council


Wairoa District Council will absorb a significant portion of the initial cost of the Mahia Beach Community Wastewater Scheme in order to alleviate the financial burden for residents and business owners.

Councillors decided at a recent meeting to allocate the cost of the scheme based on its ultimate capacity of 619 ‘equivalent connections’, rather than the 440 equivalent connections it will begin with.

A typical residential property would be counted as one ‘equivalent connection’, rather than counting the number of physical connections. High occupancy properties are assessed on the basis of how much wastewater they produce when compared to the typical residential dwelling. For example, at peak times the camping ground contributes up to 20% of the flow the scheme is designed to handle.

Council would hold 180 connections, at a value of $2 million, which would reduce over time as new lots are created and connection fees are paid.

This decision means the average cost would equate to around $15,000 per equivalent connection, taking into account the $3.1 million Ministry of Health subsidy subject to the scheme being commissioned by June 30 2012.

Some properties are ineligible for the subsidy because they do not meet the criteria of the subsidy scheme. These include new or future subdivisions approved after March 23 2002, and commercial properties with discharges that require significant additional capacity to be designed into the system. At Mahia Beach this includes the camping ground and the bar.

Council acknowledges that this is a significant financial burden to bear and staff will be meeting with those property owners to discuss options. Council has indicated that while the user pays policy will be adhered to, there is a possibility of special assistance being provided on the basis of economic development and the contribution those businesses make to the district.

Council staff will be meeting with every property owner to discuss individual site needs – for example, some properties will need new septic tanks and switchboards, whereas others may not. The outcome of these meetings will affect the final cost to each connection.

In the case of new developments where public infrastructure has been installed, Council have opted to take that cost into account as a ‘credit’. For example, it is anticipated the gravity pipelines within Mahia Heights are able to be used with the new system, so the cost saving will be a credit to those properties.

For efficient implementation of the scheme, Council is looking into a financial incentive programme to encourage property owners to sign up early, backed up by a by-law that will require all properties within the serviced area to sign up before a certain date.

Looking at the project as a whole, detailed design is underway, with the first physical works contracts expected to be awarded later this year. The land purchase by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council with WDC contribution is all but complete and HBRC have planted the trees in the dispersal area. Riparian planting plans are being finalised in consultation with the community via the Whangawehi Catchment Group.