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What to do with rugby fields of sludge?

What to do with rugby fields of sludge? First on-line Scenario Workshop goes live from the University of Canterbury.

Sewage may not be a sexy topic, but not talking about it won’t make it go away. Christchurch produces about 25,000 tonnes of treated sewage sludge per year, enough to cover a rugby field to a depth of 5 metres. What should we be doing with this sludge?

The University of Canterbury is helping the Canterbury community and the Christchurch City Council answer that question. Dr Joanna Goven, from the University’s School of Political Science and Communication, has developed the first on-line Scenario Workshop to extend opportunities for the community to shape the Council’s sludge strategy.

Scenario Workshops were first developed by the Danish Board of Technology. They have been used in Europe to product well-informed, well-supported strategies for making cities and regions more sustainable.

Dr Goven and a team from Ensis (formerly Forest Research), Landcare Research, and Te Rûnanga o Ngâi Tahu, with the approval and support of the Christchurch City Council, have pioneered the use of Scenario Workshops in New Zealand. They have run six in-person workshops, but wanted to build further opportunities for community participation in the process.

“Traditional scenario workshops are quite resource-intensive, and they require participants to be available on a particular day. The on-line workshop allows participants more flexibility and can potentially reach many more people,” says Dr Goven. “On the other hand, it may have disadvantages that we haven’t anticipated. So in addition to channelling community input into the development of a sludge policy, we will also be investigating the strengths and weaknesses of the on-line process.”

Dr Goven noted that an industry working group has been drafting national standards for the use of treated sludge in New Zealand. The Scenario Workshops and their contribution to the Christchurch strategy may be essential to retaining a measure of local control over the use of sludge in the Christchurch area. “Do you want treated sludge on parks, gardens and farms in and around Christchurch? Now is the time to decide.”

The on-line Scenario Workshop, which closes on September 11, can be accessed through www.posc.canterbury.ac.nz/news/workshop.shtml or directly at www.aspdesign.co.nz/strategy.


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