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Water seen as key to Tasman's future prosperity

March 10th, 2012
[by David Armstrong]

Tasman District Council's Draft Long Term Plan for 2012-2022 has identified the supply and quality of water and the management of wastewater and stormwater as key to the district's future prosperity.

A summary of the draft plan was published this week by the TDC via its Newsline magazine, delivered to all households. It's front page contains one key statement: "Water will be a key element to the future prosperity of the Tasman District."

The summary document, which is well presented and very readable, identifies 15 key issues the council faces on behalf of ratepayers, with more than half of them concerning drinking and irrigation water, wastewater, stormwater and weather events that result in water damage.

Emergency response:  The list leads off with the rainfall event in December 2011 which led to flooding, slips and debris flows resulting in damage to Council infrastructure and private property. Much of the repair work will be undertaken in the current 2011/2012 year. Some funding will come from central government and insurances, but a shortfall is to be funded by Council through rates.

Council has budgeted for around $900,000 to help replenish the disaster funds in 2012/2013, but there may be a need to cut further projects from the work programme or to raise rates to help pay for the repair works.

Water reticulation:  Until now, Council had proposed a water reticulation scheme for Motueka to reduce potential public health risks associated with bore water use, improve fire fighting capacity and ensure adequate high quality water is available to meet future growth needs. Last year Council was advised that its application to government for a subsidy for the new supply was not successful.

Council has therefore deferred the project in the Draft Long Term Plan to start around 2021 when it will consider re-applying for a government subsidy and undertaking further consultation with the Motueka community on any proposed scheme.

Water supplies:  The Coastal Tasman pipeline is a major capital expenditure project planned to improve the water supply capacity to Mapua and to facilitate growth in Mapua and the Coastal Tasman Area. Work is programmed to commence in 2018 and be completed around 2023. The cost of the project is in the order of $38.3 million with $23.9 million included within the 10 year period.

Richmond is currently fed from two water sources. Council is planning a new water treatment plant in Richmond, to blend the Waimea and Richmond sources, in order to meet the government's new drinking water standards, as the Richmond supply does not currently meet the desirable nutrient content under the standard. Construction of the plant is planned to occur from 2012 to 2015.

New drinking water standards now makes it mandatory for councils to comply. This change means Council has had to programme, at considerable cost, upgrades of all remaining urban water treatment plants not currently meeting the standard during the coming 10 years.

The three rural water supply schemes, however, are not covered by the upgrades and may be upgraded after the next 10 years if affordable methods of treatment can be found. The treatment plant upgrades will mean that the cost of providing water to residents and businesses will increase significantly over the coming 10 years.

The various water supply projects contribute to the increase in Council's debt by $56.4 million over the 10 year period.

Other issues around the district which the council is addressing in its Long Term Plan include:

  • The low flow restricted water supply rates are also planned to increase substantially during the 10 year period.
  • Council is proposing that the Pohara water supply, which currently has its own separate account, be included in the "Urban Water Club".
  • A new services agreement is planned between Nelson City Council and TDC for the supply of water to Nelson City ratepayers in the area of Champion Road, Garin College and the Wakatu Industrial Estate. This aims to settle a long-running dispute about services in this area.

Wastewater:  Council is planning to upgrade the Takaka and Motueka Wastewater Treatment Plants in 2012 - 2014, at a cost of $12.3 million. These upgrades, along with a list of other high cost wastewater projects, are needed to satisfy resource consents, renew ageing infrastructure and meet projected growth levels.

Tasman Village and Marahau have both been identified as settlements that would benefit from public wastewater systems. These systems are not provided for in the 10 year period covered by the Draft Long Term Plan.

Stormwater:  Council is proposing to undertake catchment management plans and hydraulic modelling to enable it to fully understand the impacts of stormwater discharges on receiving environments.

Council is also planning several major stormwater capital works projects over the coming 10 years. They are needed to address environmental matters, to replace ageing infrastructure, to improve the capacity of the network and to meet growth needs.

The projects are leading to forecast stormwater urban drainage area rates increases from 0.0475 cents to 0.0902 cents per dollar of capital value over the 10 years. The stormwater debt level is also forecast to rise $19.3 million over the 10 year period. This includes an increase in development contributions loans of $5.68 million.

Lower Motueka River Flood Control:  The proposal now is to refurbish the existing stopbanks over a 13 year period at a cost of $16.35 million. Refurbishment will commence in 2017/2018 and be completed in 2029/2030. Council has developed a proposed funding model for the project, details of which can be seen in the summary report.

Lee Valley Dam:  The Draft Long Term Plan contains a large section on the proposed Lee Valley Dam project, which is likely to be the most significant project undertaken for our region for many years.

Tasman District Council and the Waimea Water Augmentation Committee (WWAC) are proposing that a dam be built in the Lee Valley that would hold 13.4 million cubic metres of water. The cost of the Dam would be about $41.6 million (in 2010 dollars), subject to investigations, refinement of the dam design, and tender prices. Details of the costs and benefits can be seen in the summary report.

For those readers who did not see the Newsline booklet, and those living outside the circulation of that publication, the document can be downloaded and read from this link.


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