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Environment projects the winner

Environment projects the winner in city's ten year plan

March 22, 2006

Despite budget pressures, work will continue on North Shore City's Project CARE programme, the 20-year plan to reduce sewage overflows onto city beaches.

The programme to protect the city's harbour and Gulf coastline started in 1998, and since then considerable progress has been made in meeting the aim of reducing wet weather overflow events to an average of only two a year in 2020, from the previous 12.

Chairman of the council's infrastructure and environment committee, Tony Barker, says the city will continue to invest heavily in the environment.

"Considering the city's continuing growth and the need to repair and upgrade our sewage networks and treatment plant, we will continue our programme.

"We have to, and our communities expect nothing less," Councillor Barker says.

The Draft City Plan 2006-2016, available now and covering the next ten years, sets out a timetable for the city's largest-ever environmental project.

The construction of a new treatment plant outfall will take high quality treated effluent from the Rosedale ponds through a 2.6 kilometre long tunnel to Mairangi Bay and a further 2.8 kilometres to an outfall in the Hauraki Gulf. It replaces a 1960s outfall that exits 600m from shore. On today's estimates, total cost is $103m.

Tony Barker says the council is continuing to expand and improve the sewer network in the Browns Bay catchment.

"A key 40-year-old sewer running beneath the headland between Torbay and Browns Bay will be enlarged and renewed to cater for existing and future growth in the northern East Coast Bays area," he says. Total cost is $5m, with other essential network improvements adding $4m.

"As the city grows and house sites get smaller, buildings and impermeable surfaces greatly increase stormwater runoff, which can damage the environment.

"We have many projects under way, including an extensive study and the development of stream catchment management plans. These aim to manage stormwater runoff and reduce the potential for damage to the environment."

Councillor Barker says North Shore City Council is seeking ways to ensure that the costs of services fall more equitably on those who use them.

The city currently charges households a flat rate (a uniform targeted rate) and businesses a urinal or pan charge for the costs of disposing of wastewater - the water that comes from the bathroom, laundry and kitchen. Whatever goes down the basin, shower, sink, tub or toilet ends up in the city's wastewater system. There is a link between the volume of water purchased and the volume of wastewater discharged - about 75 per cent of water purchased is disposed of as wastewater.

"Water bought by households is charged on the basis of volume consumed, while wastewater is charged at a flat rate, so should wastewater be charged on a volume basis instead?," asks the council.

Charging for wastewater based on the volume of drinking water used operates as a user pays system. Households that reduce water consumption pay less wastewater charges. People living alone would generally use less water and pay less for wastewater than large households. The total volume of wastewater produced by households may decrease over time, possibly leading to savings and eventually helping the environment. A disadvantage is that costs for bigger users, such as large families, will be higher than current charges. There are individual exceptions, especially for business users, and the city will consider these.

Any changes in the way wastewater disposal is paid for will not happen before the 2007/2008 financial year to allow time for implementation. Options either to continue as we are or to change to charging by water volume used (volumetric charging) will be consulted on as an amendment to the City Plan before any implementation.


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