Stylish hat

What a stylish lady, Rosemary, on the front page of the Chronicle (August 18).
How dare anyone ask her to remove her hat?

Come and use the facilities at KiwiBank Marton. The lovely ladies there would only look with admiration.


Rates concerns


On reading the Chronicle editorial of August 13, I gained the impression it had been written by the district council's PR consultants.

The praise for the council chief executive's efforts was somewhat overdone. There are ratepayers who, within four years, could face a 30 per cent increase in their rates because of the council decision to proceed with the "gold-plated" wastewater treatment plant.

These people are saying: "The chief executive is only carrying out his job, so why give him special recognition?" After all, not many people in Wanganui earn his salary.

Whether his contribution to council's decision-making processes to date are correct is open to debate.

Another concern I have regarding the article is that the editor does not appear to have discussed his views with Affco. If he had, he may have discovered that the council had failed to meet assurances it gave the company when the current plant was being designed.

Council consultants were to liaise with Affco personnel to ensure that Affco's ideas on a solution would be taken into consideration. They are a major wastewater contributor but, incredibly, the liaison never took place. If this had occurred, then the ridiculous position both parties find themselves could have been avoided. Since they were expected to be a major financial contributor to a proposed plant, their views should have been given consideration.

The editor might also have discovered that council's proposed charges for handling Affco's wastewater are equal to the total combined cost of what they incur at their other 11 plants in New Zealand.

The current situation should never have arisen. What other council would make a decision to proceed with the building of a $41.5 million wastewater treatment plant where contributions from a major wastewater contributor to either capital cost or running costs had not been agreed prior to work commencing? That is the situation we have here.

As a result, many ratepayers are saying there have to be changes at the council. I agree.


Graeme Young is standing as a candidate for the Whanganui District Council at the October election..

Whanganui District Council responds: This letter is inaccurate on all points raised. The claim that "there are ratepayers who, within four years, could face a 30 per cent increase in their rates because of the council decision to proceed with the "gold-plated wastewater treatment plant" is untrue. The rates increase in four years' time is 22 per cent, not 30 per cent, and of this 22 per cent increase only 3 per cent is due to the wastewater treatment plant. In relation to the liaison with industries, the council has held monthly Trade Waste User Group meetings since mid-2013 with representatives of each of the six trade waste companies invited. In September 2014, council approved the widening of this group to include elected members and representatives of Whanganui's commercial sector. This group has met 11 times up until May 2016. This has been followed by extensive direct discussions and negotiations on many occasions between the chief executive and the largest industrial users during June, July and August. We believe that only one of the 11 plants mentioned is connected to a council scheme, so any comparison at this level is meaningless.

Political football

Beca probably has the best reputation of any design and consulting engineering firm in New Zealand. We therefore ignore their report into the Whanganui wastewater project at our peril. The report is readily available from the Whanganui District Council website and I quote from it below:

"Primary MWH Design Faults In Our Opinion

�Incorrect assumptions in the calculation of required aeration energy for aerobic treatment of the design 90 per centile BOD load.

�Excessive energy input to a Facultative Aerated Lagoon (labelled by MWH as the Optimised Lagoon Process -- OLP).

�Incorrect assumptions in the calculation of solids content in the sludge to be stored in the base of the lagoons.

�Incorrect assumption of 12 per cent solids content in the sludge layer (actual measured value was an average of 3.1 per cent).

�Optimistic interpretation of the mass loads during the design and construction phases and insufficient "safety factor" used.

�Secondary design faults are not discussed in this summary."

The Beca report is convincing and objective, unlike the comments by those leading the charge for the resurrection of the failed original plant. These appear to be people involved in the design, approval and acceptance of the first wastewater project who have a vested interest in justifying their previous decisions.

The estimate for the new plant of $41 million-plus is a great deal of money but comes about because sewage treatment plants are major engineering works. This estimate should be compared with the costs of $80 to $100 million for the Palmerston North proposals (refer to Martin Visser's letter to the Chronicle of August 20, 2014).

It is unfortunate that this matter has become a political football in the upcoming local body elections with council "wannabes" kicking it around with great gusto. There is no magic low-cost bullet for the project, and the present mayor, council and CEO are to be commended for pressing forward as quickly and sensibly as possible.