Kerikeri residents lose faith in council’s latest timeframe for new wastewater plant


Kerikeri's wastewater treatment plant site was blessed in march 2018, when the project was expected to be completed by mid 2019. The new completion date is now January 2021.

Jenny Ling/Stuff

Kerikeri’s wastewater treatment plant site was blessed in march 2018, when the project was expected to be completed by mid 2019. The new completion date is now January 2021.

Angry Kerikeri residents say they have no faith their town’s new $27 million wastewater treatment plant will be working by January.

“We were told by Far North District Council we would have reticulated sewerage to our properties by the end of 2017,” Jane Johnston, Kerikeri Residents and Ratepayers Association president said.

There had been ongoing updates on that since then, none of which had happened, Johnston said.

“There have been ongoing delays that are affecting the Kerikeri economy.”

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In August last year, the Northern Advocate reported the plant was to have been completed by December 2019. By December, Far North District Council [FNDC] said the plant was to be completed in April 2020. Its latest forecast now has the plant due to be finished by the end of September.

The Northern Advocate also reported in the same article that Kerikeri households and businesses were expected to be able to connect to the scheme by July this year. By December, FNDC said this would happen in September. January instead is now the latest forecast.

Jane Johnston from Kerikeri Ratepayers Association first raised concerns about the wastewater treatment plant upgrade in 2017.

Bayley Moor/Stuff

Jane Johnston from Kerikeri Ratepayers Association first raised concerns about the wastewater treatment plant upgrade in 2017.

The plant’s project delivery performance was part of an update in FNDC chief executive Shaun Clarke’s report to the council’s Thursday 25 June meeting.

This showed the plant red-carded on all five project plan performance target indicators. It failed to achieve across all targets including project completion status, the scope for the project growing, its rates of progress and costs tracking.

Andy Finch, FNDC general manager infrastructure and asset management, said performance on those indicators was not unexpected for a project of the plant’s size.

The indicators and their milestones had been set up at the start of the project. There had been a lot of changes since.

Far North District Councillors and Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board members check out Kerikeri's new wastewater treatment plant in late 2019.

Supplied

Far North District Councillors and Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board members check out Kerikeri’s new wastewater treatment plant in late 2019.

Indicators presented to the meeting presented a ‘fairly pessimistic’ view of what would be a successful project.

“I don’t think this metric does it any justice,” Finch told councillors.

The report said the scope of the project had expanded due to design issues because the contract had been let without ‘issued for construction’ drawings. These are detailed design drawings integral to assessing exactly what work is to be involved in a contract.

There were also significant impacts on the project’s completion schedule from addressing health and safety compliance issues identified through project risk assessment.

Kerikeri is better known for its Stone Store, New Zealand's longest trading store, but there are fears the wastewater treatment plant delay is impacting the town's economy.

Denise Piper/Stuff

Kerikeri is better known for its Stone Store, New Zealand’s longest trading store, but there are fears the wastewater treatment plant delay is impacting the town’s economy.

Johnston said delays had meant continuation of trucking some of Kerikeri’s sewage to Kaikohe for processing.

They had potentially impacted on the area’s water quality as people held off upgrading septic tanks in expectation of being able to go onto a reticulated wastewater system.

Development was affected, sometimes illogically. Residential subdivisions in the new areas to be brought into the scheme could not go ahead whilst those in areas outside the scheme did happen.

FNDC said the new plant will triple the amount of wastewater treated by the town’s existing Shepherd Road plant. In December last year it said this plant was due to be shut down in October.

The council said the new scheme will serve all properties already connected to Kerikeri‘s wastewater system plus 350 new properties currently on septic tanks. It will also have capacity to serve 400 further properties and is designed for expansion to provide for further growth.

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