Rotorua Lakes Council is working hard to keep costs as close as possible to the $14,100 per household estimate for residents in Rotoiti and Rotomā to connect to the local sewerage scheme currently being built.
This cost has been a primary talking point at two community meetings recently.
A hui was held in Rotomā in December and another in Rotoiti last month which provided an update about the construction of the East Rotoiti | Rotomā Sewerage Scheme and an opportunity for residents to ask questions.
More than 100 people attended the community meeting for Rotoiti residents.
It covered a range of topics including:
- An update on construction including progress on the Wastewater Treatment Plant, the proposed reticulation network for Rotoiti and progress to identify the final on-property wastewater pre-treatment system for Rotoiti properties;
- Addressing concern about current and estimated cost and the options available for residents to connect to the scheme;
- What is expected for areas such as Curtis Road and Ruatō Bay.
Residents at the Rotoiti meeting made it clear to Council officials that uncertainty around cost is a concern.
Council’s Infrastructure general manager, Stavros Michael, told the hui Council is working hard with all its partners (the Rotorua Lakes Community Board, members of the Rotoiti | Rotomā Sewerage Steering Committee and the Iwi Liaison Group) to find solutions that will help bring the scheme as close to the $14,100 estimate as possible.
“Council cannot guarantee how much ratepayers would have to pay because not all the infrastructure has been built yet. It would be irresponsible for Council to finalise cost given unknown issues that may come up during the construction phase,” he says.
Residents sought clarification about the connection to the scheme and the ongoing scheme costs.
Mr Michael explained there will be an upfront capital cost which, currently, is estimated at $14,100 per household, including GST, and can be paid as a lump sum or over 25 years.
“The annual payment you will be making will have a compounding interest rate. The Council’s financial policy says that if you borrow that money for 25 years, the approximate capital contribution will be around $1,000 a year.”
The meeting also heard there will be a future operational/ maintenance cost for the system that will be covered by ratepayers across the district, except rural ratepayers.
“This is called a targeted sewerage levy which is currently between $400 and $450 a year for each ratepayer to connect to a sewerage scheme,” Mr Michael says. “That covers things like maintenance, servicing and assets renewal. There will also be a small electrical cost of about $50 a year per ratepayer.”
Rotorua Deputy Mayor, Dave Donaldson, told the meeting that Council officers would be able to help.
“People with proven hardship who cannot afford the upfront cost would be in the catergory of people, spreading (costs) over 25 years, anyone in that position can come and have a private meeting with Council. There is also assistance available through a rates rebate scheme. This can be discussed with a Council officer.”
Those at the Rotoiti meeting also heard:
- That the total estimated cost for the project is about $35 million ($24m already committed to contracts and the remaining $11m to be focussed on tendering for the Rotoiti wastewater pre-treatment system and finalising the required design to complete the Rotoiti reticulation network to the plant).
- No decision has yet been made on a pre-treatment system for Rotoiti properties.
- On the recommendation of the scheme’s steering committee, Council will soon be seeking tenders for on-site pre-treatment systems including Biolytix, On-site Septic Tank Effluent Pre-treatment (STEP) and other similar models.
Mr Michael said Curtis Road would not have a separate system to Rotoiti.
“We are in the process of trying to establish the best options of connecting those properties into the main reticulation line. We are exploring different paths because there are cultural concerns as well as challenges to location, technical and geology. Connecting these properties, via an on-property pre-treatment system, is planned as part of the main reticulation network. But if any other pre-treatment options become feasible we would then talk to the local property owners.”
He made it clear that the same pre-treatment system chosen for Rotoiti would be adopted for Ruatō Bay, where Biolytix was trialled, once a decision is reached.
Council accepted an invitation to provide an update on the scheme for Rakeiao Marae descendants and ratepayers who live on Curtis Road. Meetings details are yet to be arranged.