Frustration and disappointment were the main feelings portrayed by 120 Lake Rotoiti and Rotomā residents who came together to get answers about their lengthy sewerage upgrade process.
The Rotomā Residents Association and Rotorua Lakes Community Board held a meeting on Saturday to update residents on the $35 million scheme's progress and when payments for connection would be due.
Rotorua Lakes Council infrastructure manager Stavros Michael told residents the wastewater treatment plant was 50 per cent complete, as was 15km of the 22km of reticulation required from the pre-treatment systems to the treatment plant.
Subsidies for the scheme from the Ministry of Health, Ministry for the Environment and Bay of Plenty Regional Council come to about $26 million.
The latest estimated capital costs for each property were, according to Michael, $14,000 to $15,000, up from $13,000 last April.
Residents will be able to pay this cost up front or pay between $900 to $1000 a year for 25 years, coming to nearly $25,000 after interest.
On top of this, each property connected to the scheme will have to pay a levy of about $450 annually for their portion of maintenance and operational costs for the district sewerage system.
The costs were a hard pill to swallow for some residents, with many telling Michael they were struggling to pay rates as it was. Some expressed fears of being evicted as a result of the extra financial strain from the scheme.
Michael said costs could not be finalised until the pre-treatment system at Rotoiti had been decided.
Rotomā residents have already decided on a Septic Tank Effluent Pre-treatment system and installations have begun.
These have a 24-hour back up system in emergencies, and the cost forms $8000 of the $14,000 to $15,000 payment.
"We are acutely aware that the communities have got some sensitivities, and fairly so, about the affordability of the system," Michael said.
"I know many times people are asking us, 'give us an exact figure', the reality is that we still need to go through the procurement process, tenders, and we still need to discuss this with all our partners and all the parties."
Former Rotorua mayor and Bay of Plenty Regional councillor Kevin Winters asked whether connecting Curtis Rd to the wastewater treatment plant was still part of the plan.
Michael said the council was waiting for the reticulation proposal and scheme design for Rotoiti before the decision was made.
He said the $11 million portion of the budget for Rotoiti was to connect all of East Rotoiti to the scheme.
Michael said even though more properties were being connected at Rotoiti than Rotomā, those at Rotoiti were closer together and required a slightly smaller budget.
Lakes Community Board member Fred Steven suggested residents should not have to pay the levy costs, or the capital costs because "the reason people have to upgrade their systems is for lake water quality, it's not for the individual benefit".
Another meeting will be held in the new year but the date is yet to be set.
The process to date:
Since 2007 connecting lakeside communities to sewerage reticulation has been a focal point for the council in an effort to improve water quality in the district.
A 2014 report by the Rotomā and Rotoiti Sewerage Steering Committee's technical advisory group estimated that leakage from septic tank soakage fields contributed to 14 per cent of the phosphorus ending up in Lake Rotomā and 9 per cent of the nitrogen.
It also showed that at Lake Rotoiti, septic tank outputs contributed to 7 per cent of the phosphorus ending up in the lake and 3 per cent of the nitrogen.
In 2012 the council's resource consent for its chosen scheme, at the time, was unsuccessful in the Environment Court.
The court's view was that the district council had "misled" iwi and the court "on several important matters".
After improved community consultation, a $35 million wastewater treatment plan was formed and consents applied for in 2016.