Sewerage failure costly for residents

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 14/02/2014
Southland Times photo
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ
Kennington residents Denise and Nathan Phillips are worried about the cost of a new sewerage system but understand it needs to be done.

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Embattled Kennington residents dealing with noise emissions from the nearby sawmill now have another fight on their hands - a failed sewerage system that will cost homeowners thousands of dollars each to fix.

A public meeting on Wednesday to address noise complaints about the sawmill also updated residents on a sewage problem and the options to fix it.

Invercargill City Council environmental health services manager John Youngson said a high level of sewerage-system failure had resulted in surface and ground water being contaminated with human faeces and pollution in the nearby Waihopai River.

Sanitary survey dye tests revealed effluent on 20 properties, direct discharge from septic tanks into waterways on 15 properties and indirect discharge into waterways from 16 properties via soakholes or filed tiles.

"Those on bore should not be drinking the water," he said.

Shocked residents of Kennington, 10km east of Invercargill, were aghast when told they would have to contribute at least $9600 each to replace the sewer system.

A gravity network, pumped sewer network and on-site options were presented as solutions.

Residents did not vote for an on-site option and it was decided there would be a community contribution for the connections, meaning everyone had to opt in.

City council chief executive Richard King said the council preferred the $1 million capital cost gravity network, which was "flush and forget with no maintenance costs".

About 61 properties would be connected and it would cost about $17,898 for each property.

However, owners would contribute 37 per cent of the cost and on-site costs, which totalled about $9600.

This was "fair and reasonable," Mr King said.

These costs would increase if pipes on residents' land needed to be replaced because council was only working up to property boundaries.

Council would offer a payment option for those who could not pay up front. This meant residents could put the debt against their property and it would be paid along with rates. However, they would still be expected to pay an upfront cost of $5000.

Many of the residents spoken to by The Southland Times said they were shocked and worried because of the costs, but most said they understood the work needed to be done.

Council legal representative Russell Ibbotson urged the homeowners to move forward with the council, which was keeping Environment Southland, iwi and the Ministry of Health at bay.

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Environment Southland environmental scientist Roger Hodson said the problem was discovered during its Living Streams programme.

"We identified potentially concerning discharge, and followup investigations revealed stormwater containing human, effluent."

As a result, public health, local iwi and council were informed.

"It is good to see the city council working on a solution," he said.

Meanwhile, the Kennington residents were told that the council was consulting with the Niagara sawmilling company to create a noise management plan to address their concerns about ongoing noise from the mill.

Council staff said sawmill bosses had committed to a noise management plan, and acoustic engineers had been engaged by both sides.

 

- The Southland Times

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