Concerns over Franz Josef waste water treatment plant

By Janna Sherman -
The Franz Joseph Glacier in the South Island. Photo / File
The Franz Joseph Glacier in the South Island. Photo / File

The pressure is on the Westland District Council from the Environment Court to address non-compliance issues at its Franz Josef Glacier waste water treatment plant.

Councillors yesterday agreed to begin a 30-day consultation process on how to fund a new $6.2 million plant as opposed to its current oxidation ponds, badly damaged by flooding in March when the Waiho (Waiau) River burst its banks.

The council has been issued with several abatement notices in recent years which escalated to infringement notices with fines and last year was served with Environment Court enforcement action notices for continued non-compliance, including effluent being discharged into the river.

Council district assets group manger Vivek Goel said council had not been proactive in dealing with compliance issues.

Goel said the council's solicitors were in discussion with the Environment Court.

"We do have a timeline on us ... We submitted a status report at the end of last month and the Environment Court is not very happy with it. They are discussing that today and they want to see a firm timeline in terms of the compliance situation.

"We have been doing this for a number of years, now its time to make an action," Goel said.

The 30 calendar days for the consultation, which will be carried out district-wide due to two of the three funding options being relative to ratepayers from Otira to Haast, was standard for a special consultative procedure.

The options are -- a targeted and harmonised rate across all connection in the district -- the funding mechanism currently applied for such infrastructure; a 50:50 option, with half of the cost to be harmonised over the distract and the other half to be covered by Franz ratepayers alone; or 100 per cent funded by Franz community.

The option that confined the rates to Franz Josef was generally opposed by submitters to council's annual plan process.

Goel said there was some expectation that major stakeholders could contribute.

He told councillors an approach had been made to the Scenic Hotel Group for a capital contribution to the scheme

He said the company was the biggest contributor to the waste water network and it wanted to discuss possible sharing options, similar to what the council had done with Westland Milk Products for the $5m Hokitika water supply upgrade.

"They are going to review that in their board meeting in August."

Councillor Latham Martin asked if it would be better to hold off consultation until council had heard from them.

However, Goel said the project needed to keep moving ahead while consultation was happening.

Resource consents and a land purchase would also occur.

The three funding options were modelled on "worst case scenario" in the event of no funding being received.

Any contributions, be it form stakeholders or the Government, would offset the rates requirements - which would not take affect until 2018.

Council's business case to Central Government for up to $3m of the total cost was still with Local Government New Zealand, which is helping council in drafting the application.

Assistance is also being sought through the Tourism Development Fund.

The full project cost could push council debt to $24.8m, with district-wide rates projected from as much as $412 per connection.

The council voted to roll out consultation from August 8.

- Hokitika Guardian

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