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Fresh look needed on town water reticulation

November 14th, 2012
[by David Armstrong]

A recent find of e-coli contamination in a Motueka High School bore has sparked renewed interest in the further development of Motueka's town water reticulation.

The matter was raised in a report by chairman David Ogilvie at Tuesday's community board meeting following a newspaper report in September that the level of e-coli from a school grounds bore led to the water supply being ruled as unsafe to drink.

The paper reported the TDC Environmental Health Co-ordinator saying the test “showed a very low level of contamination” and that e-coli in itself was not the concern, but that it was an indicator of the potential for other contaminants.

The school had brought in uncontaminated water supplies, and no-one has become ill from drinking the water. Tests since the contamination report had returned clear results. Recent heavy rain had likely been the cause.

David said that as part of the progressive water reticulation programme for Motueka, both Woodlands Avenue and Whakarewa Street were reticulated a few years ago, but Motueka High School was not connected to the scheme. In fact, very few residents in those street have connected as yet.

"The High School situation is a timely reminder to continue the town’s reticulation, at least within the limits of the Motueka water rate account, and particularly for public institutions like schools, rest homes, holiday parks and accommodation places," David reported.

"I suspect there is no method of compelling reticulation, but an information/educational programme would be of benefit. Approximately 70 – 75% of Motueka households get their drinking water from private bores, and the majority of these are less than 10 metres deep."

Motueka is the largest town in New Zealand not to have a fully reticulated water supply. However, it is widely held among ratepayers that the cost of total reticulation remains prohibitive without a central government subsidy.

"But sooner or later the community board must address this issue properly," David said.

In his report, David raised questions for the council, including what upgrade is programmed for the Motueka water treatment plant by 2015 (there is a budget for $1,198,224), which Motueka areas are more susceptible to contamination than other areas, is it usual that any contamination is specific to a particular bore, and what is the current debt level of the Motueka water account?

He also wants to know if the Council has a progressive water reticulation programme for the town? "If not, why not? Are some areas ranked a high risk and therefore prioritised? When will the Council apply for the Government subsidy? And can the Council compel a resident to connect?"

He said an alternative to water reticulation could be a council subsidy to residents to deepen their private bores. Cliff Satherley said the cost of water was too dear for anyone to join, and connecting to the mains requires expensive piping and plumbing changes for households, but Cr Barry Dowler said that remaining on private bores also has its costs, such as repairs when private pumps fail or wells collapse.

Special Projects approved
Also at Tuesday's meeting, the board unanimously approved that the 2012-13 Special Projects fund be allocated to the top five voted options, with the sixth project being deferred (see our earlier story).

The projects to proceed are:

  • Contribute to a Litter Cart collection for central Motueka streets, subject to similar funding being provided by other groups and businesses ($5,000);
  • Construct five pram crossings for mobility scooters in central areas of Motueka ($7,500);
  • Road-mark cycle lanes along Pah Street, Grey Street and Whakarewa Street, in liaison with Engineering Services ($5,000);
  • Subsidise a series of murals along central High Street ($2,000);
  • Upgrade the kitchen and supper room of the Motueka Memorial Hall ($10,000).

Construction of a pathway linking Talbot Street and Manoy Street, at a cost of $10,000, was deferred until property ownership, traffic access and car parking issues are resolved.

Discretionary Fund grant
The community board approved an application by Motueka Community Care for $493 to provide a Christmas dinner to 29 disadvantaged elderly people of Motueka.

Organiser Glennis Leppien said the funding they have received from Lion Foundation in the past had not come through this year so the dinner had to be a smaller affair than the 155 people catered for last year. Board member Paul Hawkes indicated he may be able facilitate some top-up funding from other sources.

Cemetery development concepts
TDC Reserves Officer Steve Richards was to address the board with his proposed plans for landscaping, planting and other enhancements to Motueka Cemetery and its approaching road, but he did not show up, so discussion on the documents and photos he had sent was rather unfocused.

The board agreed to ask Steve for an on-site meeting on January 18th with representatives of the board, Keep Motueka Beautiful, Motueka RSA and Grey Power, to update his proposal, and then to develop a plan for full public viewing and an invitation to comment and make submissions.

Port Motueka developments
David Ogilvie asked the community board to assist the Port Motueka Users Group in rebuilding the training wall at the Moutere River mouth, and to apply to council for funds to do the job.

It was decided to establish a working party of Cr Jack Inglis and Board Member Cliff Satherley to liaise with the Port Motueka Users Group and, with them, to apply to council for substantial funding to rebuild the training wall; and to report to the board's February 2013 meeting.

Motueka murals
Youth worker Paul Johnson spoke during the public forum about the professional approach being taken by Vision Motueka and his artistic team to the planning, design and implementation of a series of murals on walls in the central business district (see our earlier story).

He said that following discussions with people in the Historical Association, who will continue to be involved, the group had settled on a progression of up to about 10 murals that depict the story and history of Motueka from pre-human times through to the current activities and features of the town.

Murals will be designed under the guidance of local professional signwriters and aspiring artists and graphic designers to ensure quality and consistency, and he produced samples of the type of work that is being planned.


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