Himatangi residents balk at sewer plan
A question mark hangs over Himatangi Beach's toilets as the deadline to sign up to a costly new sewerage scheme looms.
Manawatu District Council staff have confirmed they plan to meet Himatangi Beach residents concerned about being "forced" to scrap their old septic tanks and hook into a scheme many say they cannot afford.
Himatangi Beach resident Chris Gordon bought a new septic tank for almost $8000 in 2010.
Its resource consent was approved.
But Mr Gordon said he had been told that his tank may not comply with Horizons Regional Council's One Plan standards for wastewater processing.
He said he had tried and failed to get straight answers out of officials.
Mr Gordon was concerned he and his wife could have no choice but to scrap their 2-year-old system and pay more than $18,000 in instalments over the next 20 years to hook into the scheme.
They were unable to come up with the $9775 needed up front by the end of this year to take advantage of a $3.2 million government subsidy offered to Himatangi residents.
"It's really bloody messy," Mr Gordon said.
"From our point of view, we had already paid for this, we thought it would be fine. I'm not too happy at all, really."
Palmerston North resident and Himatangi Beach bach owner Colin Wallace faces a similar conundrum. His family had lived on their beach property for 24 years before shifting to the city.
Mr Wallace said although the scheme was pegged as voluntary, he was concerned his tank could be condemned.
"What really annoys me is the way the council has gone about bullying us into getting the sewerage scheme," Mr Wallace said.
"I would have to get a personal loan, you see, we've got a mortgage - my wife and I, we are not wealthy people."
Mr Wallace said the council's approach to funding the scheme was flawed, and it could not expect a low-income community to take out binding long-term loans.
"I would like to know where all our rates have been going the past 100 years or so."
He suggested there ought to have been better planning before now.
Manawatu District Council assets manager Hamish Waugh said construction of the wastewater treatment plant was to begin soon, but after a meeting with Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway, it was decided further consultation with residents was necessary.
"We are going to make an offer to sit down and have a chat with them and hear their concerns directly," Mr Waugh said.
A group of Himatangi residents had spoken out after the initial estimated cost of $6 million for the system was increased by $2.7m in April this year, with the cost per dwelling rising from $6470 to $9775.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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