The engineering services committee was held on 24 September 2015. Apologies for lateness were received from the mayor, Cr Edgar, and Cr Bouillir. All other councillors were in attendance.
The agenda included the following items: (1) chairs report, (2) activity management plans, (3) Richmond’s central business district storm water plan, and (4) activity update from the manager.
I don’t normally talk about the chairs report as there is never much in them. However, I thought I would highlight a joint Tasman and Nelson council initiative that I think holds a lot of promise. The initiative I am talking about is the creation of a single set of planning and engineering standards for both Tasman and Nelson councils. In my opinion, it will provide greater levels of certainty (and cost savings) for developers working across both regions. This can only be positive in terms of cost savings for the building industry (and potential home buyers).
For this reason, I asked the chair to comment on the mood of the Nelson councillors (Cr Mike Ward, Cr Brian McGurk) who make up the joint steering group (which also comprises Cr Norris, and Cr Bryant), given the potential efficiencies and cost savings for the wider community that can be made. The chair confirmed that the mood was very positive and that Nelson councillors were keen to see this initiative succeed.
I only hope that it is not derailed in the same sense that the Yorke valley initiative has been, from what appears to be Nelson council wanting a greater share of the benefits. Like all good partnerships, both parties have to win equally.
Activity management plans
As part of the long term plan process, each of the four departments of council had to prepare an activity management plan (AMP) for all the things they planned to do over the next 10 years. For engineering, that involved writing detailed plans for: roads, water, and waste. The plans are drafted to fit within the financial umbrella of the annual and long term plans and describe in detail all the projects council will be doing and when. If funds are not allocated it is not planned to be done.
The annual and long term plans are just budgets. They show where the council wants to land the plane. Like all budgets the spending planned within them can change. Where there are changes, the annual report will show whether council stayed within its forecasted spending (the budget) or fell outside of it (resulting in either a surplus or deficit). For example, council might be asked to increase its service levels for grass cutting. If council agreed to do that then the level of activity and cost would increase, and the annual plan would report a deficit against the forecasted expenditure. Last year, council achieved a surplus (it earned and saved more money than it had planned to spend).
As I read through the transport AMP, I noticed that $1.04 million was still allocated against road works for the Salisbury road\Queen street intersection. My recollection of the draft AMP (that was presented with the long term plan) was an explicit reference to “traffic lights” at this intersection. The revised (and final) AMP presented to this committee appeared to have changed the words (by removing the reference to “traffic lights”), but had keep the original figure of $1.04 million being spent at this intersection.
Given the lack of community support for traffic lights at this intersection, I questioned this line entry in the transport AMP.
I was advised that staff had taken on board the communities desire not to have traffic lights at this intersection and for that reason had removed the words (“traffic lights”). I congratulated staff on this, but questioned why there was still a need to spend $1.04 million at this intersection. Surely, expenditure would be lower, if they were no longer planning to install traffic lights. In fact, if we had vetoed traffic lights, there was nothing to do at this intersection?
The explanation provided was that the $1.04 million would be used to examine the whole of Salisbury road to see what traffic solutions were needed (if any). I was also told that the amount was planned to be spent outside the next three years, so there was still time in the next LTP process to remove or change this line item.
I pointed out to councillors (and staff) that the words in the AMP did not refer to the whole of Salisbury road, but instead were associated only with the intersection. If the intention had changed, then the words in the AMP also should have changed – but they had not. I also found it strange that the amount of funds to be spent on this intersection had not changed from when they were originally intended to be spent on traffic lights. Surely, if no traffic lights were contemplated, the funding should have reduced to reflect merely investigatory work – which should not amount to $1.04 million.
I also pointed out that the AMP had already allocated roughly $500,000 to another part of Salisbury road (the William street intersection). In my mind, if the whole road was being reviewed (and a solution would not involve traffic lights) what other parts of Salisbury road required money being spent. As far as I was aware staff had only identified two areas of concern on Salisbury road.
If the Queen street intersection would not have lights, and William street already had funds allocated to it, why did we need to budget for $1.04 million for other parts of Salisbury road. It just did not make sense or add up. Accordingly, I invited councillors to remove the the $1.04 million, and just use the $500,000 (allocated to William street) for any Salisbury road reviews.
Unfortunately, I received no support from any councillors, and the AMP was approved as presented.
Richmond central business district – storm water plan
As everyone will be aware, Richmond’s central business district sunk beneath the waves during the 2011 and 2013 floods. To address the risks of future flooding, council has set aside a budget in the LTP ($14.7 million) to provide a solution.
Flood modelling for the current state of Richmond’s storm water system (for a 1 in 100 year flood event) is illustrated below.
A number of storm water solutions were presented to council in a series of council workshops held earlier this year. From those discussions, 3 options were presented in the report to council, which included the preferred option (a gravity pressure pipeline system). The other two options were using Beach road’s drain, or using a newly constructed outlet near the racecourse.
I will briefly outline all three options.
Option 1 (Beach road)
The estimated cost was $14.7 million. This essentially involved increasing the capacity of the Beach road and Queen street drainage system. Disadvantages of this option were the poor condition of Beach road drain and the impact of the tide. A high tide would prevent much of the water coming down the system into the sea.
Option 2 (Racecourse drain)
The estimated cost was 13.2 million. Instead of increasing the capacity of Beach road drain, a new drain would be constructed along the racecourse boundary (where the croquet club are currently located). The main disadvantages of this option was the cost of new piping and disruption at the Gladstone road intersection.
Option 3 (Oxford street pressured pipe system)
The estimated cost was $13.9 million). This option utilised the existing pipes in Oxford street and pressured the water (to move faster through the existing pipes) from Washbourn gardens to poutama drain (which runs along the railway reserve and then turns parallel to Queen street behind Club Waimea). To mitigate flood waters above Washbourn gardens (eg in Jimmy Creek), the pipe under Washbourn road would be increased in size. The main disadvantage of this option is the cost of increasing the capacity of poutama drain.
Flood modelling for this option showed the greatest improvement (as illustrated below).
Council received the report and approved further development of option 3.
Highlights from the engineering manager’s report include:
- Footpaths. Hill Street footpath (between Queen Street and William Street) is being reinstated as part of the ultra fast broadband (UFB) roll out. Chorus is paying for this portion of the work.
- Lighting. The LED upgrade continues with 187 LED street lights installed in Richmond (Salisbury Road to Washbourn Drive). The LED residents survey has received 22 responses (77% preferring the new LED lights). One of the benefits of LED light is the reduced upward spill. A number of residents (81%) have noticed an improved clarity in the night sky. The survey is located at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/media-centre/public-notices/led-streetlights-questionnaire/.
- Rural road maintenance. Lots has happened in this space, including: culvert upgrades (Motueka valley highway, Tadmor-Glenhope Road, Hoult Valley Road, George Harvey Road, and Hiwipango Road), metalling (Aniseed Valley Road, ozens Road, Eighty-Eight Valley Road, Vaton Valley Road, Grooby Road, Martin Road, Pine Hill Road, Rocky River Road, Sunday Creek Road, and Wills Road), tree removal (Eighty-Eight Valley Road, Wai-iti Valley Road, Aniseed Valley Road, and Neudorf Road), advisory sign upgrades (Korere-Tophouse Road and Kerr Hill Road), and slip removal (Riwaka-Kaiteriteri Road, Baton Valley Road, Riwak-Sandy Bay Road, Motueka Valley Highway, and Stanley Brook Hill).
- Wangapeka road. This issue was raised during the public forum at the last meeting. Essentially, the road is the sole access route for 3 residential homes (and a forestry block) and is being washed away by the river. In the past landowners have constructed a rock wall, which has since been washed away. Wangapeka river is a class “Z” river, which according to council policy means any erosion control requires a 50% contribution from the landowner. Cost of any work could be up to $100,000. Council has held discussions with landowners and continue to seek an agreeable solution for all parties.
- Rivers. For the July period river maintenance was $131,000, which was less than the projected monthly expenditure of $167,000 (roughly $2 million per annum).
- Jackett Island. The sand bag wall was inspected on 7 September 2015. The survey confirms the long term trend of rising beach levels to the north and lowering beach levels to the south of the property
- Waste. The new kerbside recycling has now bedded down with all bins now delivered. Overall volumes for July and August 2015 were up 25% on the same period last year.
Agenda and minutes
The agenda and minutes are located at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/engineering-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EngineeringServicesCommittee/2015/2015-09-24.
The engineering committee meeting was held on 3 July 2014.
This was one of the briefest engineering committee agendas I had read for a long time. The meeting agenda included: (1) an LED lighting upgrade program for 14 coastal streets, (2) closure of the Collingwood Resource Recovery Centre from July 2015, and (3) the engineering managers update report (covering various topics, including; a service agreement with NZTA over Golden Bays SH60 network, Jackett Island work, and various water works).
For a full list of the engineering department’s capital works programs, see pages 43 to 51 of the agenda.
This post will highlight those items that received the most interest from councilors.
Solid waste, landfill, and resource recovery
A decision was required on the continued operation of the Collingwood and Murchison Resource Recovery Centres and whether they should continue to operate from July 2015.
Council resolved to continue with the Murchison operation, but to close the Collingwood centre. The decision was mainly driven by fiscal considerations. However, the closure would be offset by a weekly pick up service (from the same location), whereby rubbish could be loaded into a truck parked at the Collingwood centre, and then shuttled to the Takaka centre.
A thorough and well balanced report was presented to council and can be read at pages 21 to 32 of the Agenda. In summary, the Collingwood centre was heavily subsidised by rates (89%) and was losing money without any prospect of future growth to offset the losses. Basically, it was under used. Given it was only 25km from the Takaka centre, it was logical to consolidate operations with Takaka. Councillors were aware that the closure would provide an inconvenience to some ratepayers (a 50km round trip) so provision for a weekly truck service located at the Collingwood centre was provided for. In my opinion, this seemed a fair compromise. The alternative would have been to increase the charges for using the centre – to enable it to break even. However, the required increases in charges would have been prohibitive.
The council decided to roll out new LED lighting as part of a planned lamp replacement program of 396 lamps across several settlements. The decision was mainly driven by projected long term savings and the fact the additional upfront costs could be absorbed within existing budgets due to the projected savings.
The replacement of 396 high pressure sodium lamps was expected to cost $52,000. Over a period of 20 years, replacement costs would be expected to be around $396,000. For the same 20 year period, LED lights could be expected to cost $241,560. The expected payback period for LED light capital investment was 8 years. In addition, LED lights would provide additional power savings of $20,000 per year. Understandably, the roll out of LED lights was pretty much a no brainer.
By way of background, the district has 2,890 street lights, with the majority of these being high pressure sodium lamps. The total energy use is estimated at 1,037,000 (kilowatt hours) kWh per year. Council spends around $270,000 per year on street lighting energy. This budget is expected to increase in line with future power prices and the development of new subdivisions. NZTA currently subsidise street lighting maintenance and renewals at a rate of 49%.
High pressure sodium lamps have an approximate life of 12,000 kWh or around 3 years before the level of lighting drops below 70% of Lumen output. In contrast, LED lamps have a life expectancy in excess of 100,000 kWh which is equivalent to 20 years of operation at approximately 4000 kWh per year.
The latest LED lighting technology can provide a reduction in energy consumption of up to 70% as well as cost savings in maintenance due to the longer life of LED lighting. However, LED lights are more expensive per unit than high pressure sodium lamps.
An update report on Jackett Island was provided. The Council is required to maintain the foreshore of the Van Dyke Family Trust for a period of 3 years until January 2017 (see http://www.nzlii.org/nz/cases/NZEnvC/2014/1.html). The Van Dyke Family Trust has initiated a civil claim against the Council in the High Court for costs and diminution of value of their Jackett Island property.
A survey of the Jackett Island foreshore was completed in late March. The results indicate there has been minimal change over the last 3 months to the beach surface and intertidal platform. Damage that was caused to the sandbag wall from Cyclone Lusi was repaired on 7 May 2014 by utilising surplus bags that were recovered from the northern end of the existing wall.
Council has entered into an agreement with the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) for the provision of SH60 Golden Bay network management services from 1 July 2014 to March 2016. The services will be provided for State Highway 60 for the length of 75 km from the Riwaka River Bridge to the end of SH60 at Collingwood.
Agenda and minutes
The agenda and minutes for this meeting are located a http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/engineering-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EngineeringServicesCommittee/2014/2014-07-03.
This was a busy week. And hence the lateness of these posts.
Busy because on 15 November I attended two public hearings relating to Freedom Camping and Psychoactive Substances, followed by a further hearing from 18-20 November in relation to the Olive Estate lifestyle development, followed by the Engineering Services committee and Urban Design Forum meetings on 21 November.
I won’t dwell on any of the hearings apart from making one observation in respect of the Freedom Camping debate. It became apparent very early on in the hearing that there was a great deal of confusion surrounding the council’s proposal to change the Freedom Camping rules. Confusion because there appeared to be a feeling from those attending the hearing that the council was removing the freedom camping rules, when in fact it was replacing them with new rules that provided for a far higher level of enforcement.
Engineering Services Committee
The Engineering Services Committee meeting was held on 21 November. Apologies for not attending this meeting were received from Cr Higgins and Cr Edgar.
Similar to the Community development meeting held the previous week, there were a number of reports submitted to council requiring no decision. These reports are interesting in that they show the wide level of activity that the council is involved in.
A public forum was also held. Maxwell Clarke raised concerns over council’s debt level and suggested some projects including the proposed water storage project (known as the lee valley dam) should be delayed beyond the long term plan. Concerns over the closure of the Richmond reuse shop were also raised.
The agenda for this meeting comprised a number of reports and issues including: (1) the designation of Whitwell’s car park in Motueka (which is owned by Wakatu Incorporation and leased to Whitwell Holdings Ltd), (2) the Motueka flood control project (which I will discuss below), (3) the engineering departments procurement strategy and process (eg, for tendering out roading work), (4) appointment of councillors to water supply committees and working parties, (5) the recent past and future planned activities of the engineering department, (6) Jackett Island’s erosion problem and the proposed long term solution, (7) Mapua wharf’s maintenance issues, (8) the Riwaka flood bank, (9) LED street lighting trial (occurring in Norman Andrews Place in Richmond), and (10) a confidential session in relation to the potential purchase of land (or not) in relation to Warring car park.
Motueka Flood Control Project
The Motueka flood control project has been and continues to be a big issue for Motueka. As Cr Canton pointed out at the meeting, many councillors during the election had voiced their support for the project and the flooding concerns of residents. As I have stated in earlier posts on this blog, council need to seriously start reviewing spending decisions.
The financial cost of the project can best be summarised as follows. The Long Term Plan (the 2012-22, 10 year LTP) estimated the Motueka flood protection project would cost $5million (which was a reduction of the original $10.5 million that was originally estimated), with $700,00 budgeted for 2013-14 to progress consent and design works. To date, $632,000 had been raised from loans and spent on feasibility and investigation costs.
While $632,000 had already been spent, those funds had contributed to more accurate modelling that had indicated that flooding from breaches in the stop bank caused by saturation in a 1-in-100 year rain event, would not be as extensive as previously assumed. New modelling suggested that there would be less area flooded and the height of potential flooding in the township would not be high (at best 10cm high). The revised modelling also indicated that the river flooding risk of Motueka township was small for a stop bank breach scenario. Further, those areas that would be most hit by flooding, were more likely to have been flooded because of coastal inundation, than stop bank failure. Thus, investment in preventing stop bank failure to prevent flooding in a severe weather event might be a waste of money, as coastal inundation would still occur, resulting in those areas still being flooded.
There was also the risk that $5 million of stop bank strengthening work might not have fully prevented stop bank failure over the whole of the stop bank. In effect, a breach might have occurred in an area of the stop bank that was not subject to any strengthening work, thus making any strengthening work useless. This is not a strong argument in itself (as council had enabled this argument to be made by not fully funding the project to the tune of $10.5 million, so that all of the stop bank could be strengthened), but it is one to be taken into the mix, when considering if it is worthwhile to continue with a $5 million project.
On the basis of the revised modelling which showed less overall impact, the impact of costal inundation (which was outside of the projects control), and the fact a half baked strengthening project might not prevent a stop bank breach, I agreed with the council staff’s recommendation not to proceed with the project as proposed in the LTP. The benefit (flood protection) just was not there, for the costs involved.
I imagine on principle, Cr Canton objected to the recommendation on the basis of his campaign position. All other councillors present supported the removal of the projects future cost to the ratepayer. I felt that this was a good outcome and perhaps the tide was beginning to turn. Was the message of debt reduction and keeping rates down getting through. If there was any hesitation about the tide of decision making on council, it was the fact that councillors had not actually taken the initiative themselves, but instead had relied on council staff to promote the obvious cost saving measure to them. My impression to date is that council tend to support staff recommendations and are hesitant to challenge the information and recommended decision placed in front of them.
On this decision I give council 6/10. Improving, but someway to go yet. Especially given council’s reluctance to defer investigative spending on the Golden Bay community centre (see earlier post) until after we have decided owe want to commit to such a project, and future decisions on investment on entertainment events (Council should be enabling and facilitating these events, not bank rolling them).
In regard to the procurement processes of the engineering department, my only observation is that council need to be benchmarking their processes against other councils to ensure we are not outside normal practices. Its also an opportunity to take onboard best practices that might appear from looking at how others conduct procurement. It appeared that council staff thought this was possibly a good idea and undertook to further investigate such an opportunity.
Water Supply Committee and Working Party Appointments
The following appointments (recommended by council staff on the basis of locality) were made:
- Dovedale rural water supply committee: Cr Norriss
- Eighty-Eight Valley rural water supply committee: Cr King
- Redwoods rural water supply committee: Cr Bouillir and Cr Sangster
- Hamama rural water supply committee: Cr Bouillir and Cr Sangster
- Wa-iti Valley community dam users group: Cr King and Cr Higgins
- Wakefield water and Eighty-Eight Valley rural water working group: Cr King and Cr Bryant
- Takaka wastewater treatment plant upgrade working group: Cr Norriss, Cr Bouillir, Cr Sangster, and Golden Bay Community Board members.
- Motueka wastewater treatment plant upgrade working group: Cr Norriss, Cr Dowler, Cr Canton, Cr Inglis, and Motueka Community Board members.
- Joint waste minimisation and management plan working group: Cr Bryant, Cr Edgar, and Cr Dowler.
The engineering department reported on a number of interesting activities. These included:
- Staff restructure: A recent restructuring that increased full-time staff levels from 21 to 39 staff (increasing staff by 18 with a corresponding increase in wages by just over $1 million). This was the result of bringing in staff to undertake work that had in the past been contracted out in order to make substantial planned savings and service level improvements.
- Refuse waste: The operation of the Richmond refuse shop is under review after the Kahurangi Employment Trust advised the Council that it did not wish to continue after the council proposed increasing the lease costs of the refuse shop from a peppercorn rental to a more commercial rate. Recent increases in refuse (31% increase in commercial refuse and 19% increase in residential refuse since last year) and a shortage of waste transport bins has led to difficulty in processing and transporting waste. There have been increases in construction and demolition waste from outside of Richmond.
- Roading: Slip repairs from June 2013 are ongoing. An innovative bush layer wall system is being trailed at the Riwaka-Sandy Bay Road. Bridge pier protection at Hoult Valley Road West is progressing. Fonterra has been given “temporary” approval by NZTA to increase their standard tanker loading. Some intersections may require seal widening to accommodate these larger vehicles. This work is being added to the minor improvements work list. Brooklyn Valley road work is ongoing. Drainage and culvert repair and maintenance work is ongoing on Dry Road and Cowin Road. Road widening (via bank cutting and binding) is to be completed during November to ensure vehicles are kept away from an under slip. A bridge approach sealing program is being devised which will include a number of golden bay bridges and will be added to the Pohara Road widening work project to improve cost efficiencies. Matiiri Valley Road (Murchison) has had 6 culverts replaced with another 4 culverts yet to be replaced.
- Cleaning: Richmond town centre’s sundial square’s pavers are to be cleaned before Christmas. I had to question this work as the square looked tidy to me and seemed an unnecessary non-urgent expense. Especially if the area might be affected by future Queen Street road works. It seemed to me that, that was the time to clean up the square.
- Rivers: The Riwaka River required emergency repairs arising from erosion threatening the stop banks during the June floods (being a 1-in-17 year flood event). The Shaggery River (or Old West Bank channel) leo required emergency work. The June flood also affected the Dove River widening the river channel in places as well as depositing large amounts of gravel above some of the bridges. A greater focus on stop bank maintenance is continuing with further work planned. Council staff are working with landowners to remove gravel. However, to progress gravel extraction future consent hearings may have to be held.
- Road safety: From 1 November 2013, the law regarding child restraints changed. Children up to 7 years (formerly 5 years) must be restrained in an approved child restraint (see http://www.nzta.govt.nz/about/media/releases/2669/news.html).
- Richmond town centre: A draft richmond town centre framework (December 2012, revised January 2013) has been prepared outlining possible future development of the Richmond town centre. A Project Board will be established to bring together various storm water, wastewater and water improvements, land use and parking rules to ensure an integrated approach. The project will aim to up upgrade underground utilities and improve traffic and parking management.
- Work still to be completed for 2013-14 (ie, up to June 2014): Reservoir creek dam – new spillway ($431,201), Rewika-Kaiterteri road realignment ($1,170,329), champion road culvert upgrade ($500,000), remediation of slips along Abel Tasman drive ($2,078,278), Richmond reservoir work ($2,613,737), Water meter replacements ($641,196), Talbot Street and Valhalla Drive water pipe upgrades ($371,900), and Clifton sewer upgrade ($1,020,737).
A groyne was installed on the Motueka Spit by the Council in 1996. The Environment Court held that erosion on Jackett Island was caused by the groyne. The Motueka groyne was removed in October 2012. The parties subsequently agreed to a cut through the Motueka spit. While the location of the spit has been agreed, the design (and cost) of the Spit remains outstanding. A decision from the Environment Court for a long term solution is expected soon. The aim of the cut is to reduce water flows and hence erosion forces together with sand replenishment on the Jackett Island foreshore. Damage (caused by September 2013 storms) to the sand bag wall has meant remedial work (of $80,000) was required to be undertaken by the Council.
A fire on 1 August 2013 caused fire damage to the Mapua Wharf. A structural inspection identified a number of joists and piles underneath the wharf required urgent remedial work. The work is expected to cost $13,000 (plus GST) and will come from existing council funds. The inspection highlighted several medium-rem structural issues that require future attention. Approximately $15,000 every two years is required for this work.
Links to agenda and minutes
A copy of the engineering services committee agenda and minutes can be found at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/engineering-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EngineeringServicesCommittee/2013/2013-11-21.