Most councillors support WWTP inquiry results

By John Maslin

1 comment
Robert Domm
Robert Domm

A number of recommendations from the review of Whanganui's failed wastewater treatment plant have the support of a majority of Whanganui District councillors.

The council met on Friday morning to receive the report prepared by Australian Robert Domm.

His inquiry was expected to take up to 12 weeks and had a budget or up to $100,000 but it has been completed well within that timeframe. Council has yet to release details of how much the inquiry has cost.

Councillors who did respond to Chronicle questions said they were satisfied with the report and they supported the recommendations Mr Domm put forward (see sidebar).

Hamish McDouall said it was a comprehensive report that identified errors made by council, management, and contractors.

"My overall emotion is not one of satisfaction, but sadness that this district has wasted $27 million," he said.

He said the recommendations of such a considered report needed to be implemented and that council always needed to improve its processes and seek best practice.

Jack Bullock said the inquiry achieved what it set out to do "and it came in a lot cheaper than expected so that's a bonus".

"Mr Domm has done an outstanding job over a short period of time on such a complex issue."

He said he "absolutely" supported the recommendations because they highlight potential issues and risks.

Ray Stevens he was satisfied with the Domm report and he supported the recommendations "that clearly lay a path for transparent processes heading into the future".

Philippa Baker-Hogan said she wasn't happy with the review because it failed to address the question if the original plant was salvageable.

"It's telling us what we already know - the old plant failed."

And she claims the report has been truncated three and-a-half weeks early in an attempt to influence the coming election but didn't explain how.

However, she did support the recommendations Mr Domm has made.

Sue Westwood she supported the Domm report and especially its recommendation of a more rigorous reporting regime to Horizons Regional Council.

Rob Vinsen said he supported the need for this inquiry "in the misguided belief that the question 'Is the current plant salvageable' would be independently addressed.

"That Mr Domm did not address this question - the only question that really matters now - is not his fault. The terms of reference ruled out seeking technical advice," he said.

"It's tragic, for ratepayers especially, that no resolution of the key questions is offered by the inquiry."

Former Whanganui mayor Michael Laws welcomed the findings of the report.

"I feel very sorry for the governance team that is elected next month, and the good folk of Whanganui, that they will inherit the consequences of such management...of 12 years ago," he said.

Mr Laws said the findings in the report that senior managers misled the mayor and councillors of the time, "still has the capacity to shorten one's breath. You do wonder if [charges] should not be considered."


THE RECOMMENDATIONS

Among the recommendations Robert Domm has flagged are:

* amend council's procurement policy to cover provisions for major procurements over $1 million (current policy threshold is $200,000)

* review council's tenders board processes to ensure value for money, quality and fairness

* independent peer reviews and risk assessments for major projects must be considered and approved by full council

* strenghten council's internal procedures covering annual consents reports and notices of non-compliance to Horisons Regional Council

* Local Government NZ and central government consider creating guidelines for water and wastewater treatment infrastructure to assist smaller councils

* revise and strengthen council's trade waste by-law

- Wanganui Chronicle

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 04 Dec 2016 23:14:40 Processing Time: 710ms