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Team Effort To Fix City Problem

Gisborne District Council is on a mission to ensure the district’s sewer pipes are in the best possible condition. The DrainWise team is working to identify private property sewer pipes that are in bad condition, and provide guidance to homeowners on repairing or replacing their damaged pipes.

“This is an essential part of the DrainWise Programme to further reduce overflows to our rivers and onto private property,” says 4 Waters infrastructure manager Neville West.

“Council is committed to doing everything they can to help homeowners through this process. We need to ensure everyone complies with the law when it comes to private property drainage, and healthy water and ecosystems. We’re working hard on the most important part of DrainWise which is making sure homeowners fix leaking sewage systems on their property including their underground pipes.”

It’s part of a big push by Council to reduce wastewater overflows that can happen during heavy rainfall. In the past year there have been four overflow events.

“Everyone has a part to play in this,” says Mr West. “Above ground, leaking gully traps are one part of the problem, but it is what we can’t see underground that also needs attention.”

Half of the city’s wastewater pipes are on private property and because they belong to homeowners, the responsibility lies with them to ensure they don’t leak. Council inspections of these underground private pipes have shown that about half are in a poor state of repair. When these pipes leak, they let rainfall into the sewage system which then struggles to cope, leading to overflows during heavy rains.

“We need the community to help by playing their part. Wastewater overflows cannot be reduced until the privately-owned underground sewage system isn’t leaking.”

As part of the DrainWise campaign, Council will be assessing private underground pipes on all properties using CCTV and smoke testing, while making repair work as affordable as possible for the homeowner.

The programme will kick off soon and Mr West anticipates it will run over the next decade, with the aim of having all required inspections completed within seven years

This will give homeowners enough time to fix faults before the 10-year mark, with the option of fixing them privately, or taking part in the proposed Council-managed repair process..

“Hopefully this will take the stress out of the job while making it more affordable,” says Mr West.

There is legislation enabling Council to require a homeowner to repair their private pipes, which will be used where homeowners do not willingly fix their issues. “We’ve had a great response so far with homeowners keen to help once they are aware of an issue on their property.”

Anyone needing more information should email Council’s DrainWise team drainwise@gdc.govt.nz .

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