Tagged: Solid waste

Engineering committee meeting (14 April)

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The engineering services committee meeting was held on 14 April 2016. Apologies were received from Cr Mirfin, and for lateness Cr Bouillir and Mayor Kempthorne. All other councillors were present.

The agenda (88 pages) included: (1) Richmond car parking survey 2015-2016, (2) Chairman’s report, (3) Water services – options for service provision – s 17A review, (4) Water and wastewater reticulation – Mapua, (5) Rivers works – options for service provision – s 17A review, (6) Rivers contract extension and procurement of new contract, (7) Severe rain event update, (8) Road safety update, and (9) Engineering services activity update.

Public forum

Mr Maxwell Clark spoke about the new funding model for the Waimea Dam. He considered the revised model was good because it made it clear that the irrigators needed to pay their fair share. Something they were not currently doing.

Mr Graeme Dick (a property developer) spoke about the development of Mapua and the major restrictions relating to water supply. He urged the Council to create urgency (as it was not in the LTP) and to fast track the supply of new water to the Mapua area. He suggested a water pipe to Mapua would cost approximately $6 million and that 140 new sections would cover that cost. From development levies.

Cr Sangster spoke about the recent Takaka flooding and the issue with water ponding at the wastewater treatment plant. He urged the Council to include gravel removal from the Waingaro River (near Duncan’s bank) as a matter of urgency.

Richmond Car Parking Survey

A powerpoint presentation developed by Ben Norrish and Dylan Waghorn (engineering summer students) was presented to the committee by staff. This presentation was subsequently followed up with a council workshop on car parking strategies.

Chair’s report

Highlights included:

  • Fluoridation. The mood of councillors was that the cost of fluoridation should fall on those who made the decision to fluoridate (ie the DHB) or central government, not TDC. Staff were asked to provide a report on the central government’s water fluoridation proposal including expected timeframes, costs, and the proposed legal framework.
  • State highway liaison meetings. Councillors discussed the frequency and timing of these meetings. It was agreed the meetings should continue, but perhaps less often.

Water services review and procurement

Council resolved to: (1) receive the report, (2) not to undertake a s 17A review, and (3) proceed with tendering for procurement of water utilities operations and maintenance services. Council also instructed staff to develop a s 17A service delivery review programme in the relevant Activity Management Plan (AMP) for the Long Term Plan (LTP) 2018-28.

Generally, a local authority must review the cost-effectiveness of current arrangements for meeting the needs of communities within its district or region for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services and performance of regulatory functions (under s 17 of the LGA). However, a local authority is not required to undertake a review if they are satisfied that the potential benefits of undertaking a review do not justify the cost of undertaking the review.

In this case, the expiry of the water utilities service deliver contract has triggered a s 17A review. However, there are potential benefits and efficiencies from deferring a future service delivery review until the review aligns with the water utility contract renewal at Nelson council (NCC). In effect, a major shared services alignment on water services with Nelson council.

Water and wastewater reticulation – Mapua

Council resolved to: (1) receive the report, and (2) approve the use of up to $300,000 for a feasibility study for water and wastewater options in Mapua in 2016-17, funded from activity balances for water ($200,000), wastewater ($50,000), and transport ($50,000). Council also requested that staff report back to council on the process to be followed, including: potential stakeholder engagement, and a breakdown of the budget prior to commencing work on the feasibility study.

Private developers have been exploring alternative water supply proposals in Mapua to either boost the council’s system capacity or create new schemes. Recent investigations into interim water supply solutions for Mapua confirm that the Council’s water network is at capacity and cannot accommodate more growth above the water already allocated. The wastewater network is also at capacity and must be upgraded before it can accommodate growth beyond the developments already consented in Mapua.

20160421-tdc-mapuadevelopment

Under the current Long Term Plan, water and wastewater works to renew the water main and provide substantial additional capacity for growth won’t be completed for approximately 12 years. Ongoing significant water pipe breaks are threatening the delivery of an acceptable Level of Service (LOS) to residents. These are not yet at a level that justifies early intervention.

However, staff are concerned that either growth demand or excessive pipe failure in the future could warrant action before upgrade works are currently programmed – or adequately planned. Hence, staff propose to advance a feasibility study in 2016-17 that will allow the selection of a preferred design option, sizing, and programming, for both water and wastewater. The study will consider whether works should be brought forward in the future (if needed).

Rivers work review

Council resolved to: (1) receive the report, (2) not to undertake a s 17A review, and (3) proceed with tendering for procurement of water utilities operations and maintenance services. Council also instructed staff to develop a s 17A service delivery review programme in the relevant Activity Management Plan (AMP) for the Long Term Plan (LTP) 2018-28.

Generally, a local authority must review the cost-effectiveness of current arrangements for meeting the needs of communities within its district or region for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services and performance of regulatory functions (under s 17 of the LGA). However, a local authority is not required to undertake a review if they are satisfied that the potential benefits of undertaking a review do not justify the cost of undertaking the review.

In this case, the expiry of the river works contract has triggered a s 17A review. However, there are potential benefits and efficiencies from deferring a future service delivery review until the review aligns with the water utility contract renewal at Nelson council (NCC). In effect, a major shared services alignment on river works with Nelson council.

Rivers contracts

Council resolved to: (1) receive the report, and (2) approves the extension of the rivers maintenance contract C840 with Taylors Contracting Ltd until 30 September 2016.

Council currently has a contract with Taylors Contracting Limited to provide physical works in “X” and “Y” classified rivers. This is a 5-year contract (3+1+1 years) which expires on 30 June 2016. Staff sought to extend the current contract by 3 months to enable a review and develop contract documents for the new tender process. If approved, the current rivers contract would expire on 30 September 2016.

Severe rain event

Council resolved to receive the report.

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A severe storm event (across the whole district) occurred on 23-24 March 2016. Over 24 hours 250-350mm of rainfall fell across the northwest ranges and Kahurangi National Park area, and 150-200mm about the Richmond Ranges.

Location

Total Rainfall (mm)

Aorere at Collingwood

298

Anatoki at Paradise

376

Takaka at Harwoods

267

Takaka at Canaan

336

Riwaka at Takaka Hill

254

Waimea at Appleby

124

Brook at Third House

145

Lee at Trig F

174

Nelson at Founders Park

105

 

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The largest flood occurred in the Riwaka River. The flow in the South Branch tributary peaked at 96 cumecs and the flow in the North Branch tributary peaked at 94 cumecs, which was the second highest flow since records began in 1982.

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The Takaka River catchment also experienced significant flooding. The upper catchment rivers reached flows corresponding to around 15-30-year flood events and the mid catchment 5-10-year floods events. The upper Takaka River at Harwoods flow site recorded the second highest level since records began in 1975.

Location Records Start This Event (rainfall mm) Previous Highest (rainfall mm)
Collingwood Repeater 2012 298 178
Takaka at Harwoods 1988 267 265
Riwaka North at Littles 1995 227 186
Tui Close (Motueka) 1998 179 140

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Road safety

Council resolved to receive the report.

Tasman District has always had a relatively low crash history. Generally, around 70 people annually are hurt when using the road network. In 2006 and 2007, numbers were higher than normal.

In 2006, there were 3 fatal and 7 serious crashes on our road network. A further 50 minor crashes and 97 damage only incidents also occurred. In 2007, there were 2 fatal, 24 serious and 91 minor injury crashes, and 119 damage only crashes. Since 2010, there has been a steady decrease in the number of people injured on our road network. In 2015, there were no fatal crashes.

The first graph shows the fatal and serious reported crashes from 2006 to 2015. A trend line has also been added to show the reduction over time.

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The next graph shows all injury crashes from 2006 to 2015.

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The last graph shows the above data as well as non-injury (damage only) crashes.

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The graph below provides crash data from 2006 to 2015.

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The graph below shows the traffic growth (vehicle kilometres travelled) across the District from 2006 to 2015.

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Engineering services activity update

Council resolved to receive the report. Highlights from the managers report included:

  • Finances. Overall operations income and expenditure is within or ahead of budget. A total year to date operating surplus of $5.8 million is recorded. The capital works programme is behind budget overall. We are still struggling to commit all the carry forward work from the last financial year and initiate all the new capital work in the current year.
  • Health and safety. Water main excavation work vs power line (11kv power cable) incident resulted in an arc touching a digger bucket. No injuries were reported. Downer began an investigation on the morning of the incident. Immediate action has been to change their procedures.
  • Planning. Staff have developed a 2016 activity planning business plan. The plan does not outline all of the team’s work, just priorities for 2016, and indicative priorities for 2017. Transport plans include: Tasman Speed Management Plan, and District Car Parking Strategy Review. Stormwater plans include: Richmond Catchment Management Plan (CMP), and Secondary Flowpath Management. Other projects include: Regional Water Supply and Demand model, Water related TRMP changes, Water Allocation Principles and Practice, and the Joint Land Development Manual.
  • Asset database. Since the last update, 3,474 utilities asset features have been added, edited, or deleted, based on new subdivision works, repairs and council contracts are received. Progress has been made in reviewing and improving the drains data set with 138 new assets added, 34 amended and 10 features removed (added in error or superseded by piped systems).
  • Developments. Three subdivision engineering plans have been received and approved since the last update. Council’s legal advisers are preparing a deed for an area in Richmond West which has a deferred residential zoning and has the potential for an additional 500 new dwellings. It is proposed that the area will be serviced by a new wastewater pressure sewerage system draining to Headingly Lane. Residential developments (future 60 lots) off Pitfure road in Wakefield are extending into residential zoned land; discussion with the developer’s agent is continuing. Pre-application discussions on future developments in Richmond south are continuing. The Hart subdivision (33 lots) on the corner of Hill street and Hart road is nearing completion. The Mapua Joint Ventures development is continuing with the next stages (24 lots) which will see the upgrades of the Seaton Valley Road and Mapua Drive frontages to the subdivision. Stage three (36 lots) of the subdivision in Grey Street Motueka is nearing completion.
  • Stormwater. Secondary flow paths protected by easements in new subdivisions continue to be blocked by fences/gardens and enforcement may be required to maintain these flow paths. Work is underway to remove a number of willow trees and place rock protection in Reservoir Creek, Richmond. A programme of hazard identification at water utilities sites has commenced, starting with an assessment of stormwater inlets. Staff will be using iAuditor software on site which will ensure that data is entered electronically directly into the system in a consistent manner.
  • Tender Portal. TDC now have our own portal for Tenderlink (www.tenderlink.com/tasman) which is linked to the Council’s website.
  • Waste. Recycling tonnages continue to track above 2015, with year to date tonnages 24% above last year. Resource recovery centres have been busy over summer and total waste volumes are tracking 6% above budget.
  • Roads. March has seen the completion of a 300 metre aggregate overlay and associated drainage work on Korere–Tophouse Road. This has remediated a section of road that suffered severe stress due to the logging activity along this route. The gravel section of Old House Road at the intersection with Central Road has been sealed as a safety improvement. Focus was also put on replacing, extending or installing a number of culverts including at Herring Stream Road, Tadmor-Glenhope Road, Hursthouse Street and the Motueka Valley Highway. Pavement repairs to various roads in Richmond included: Bateup Road roundabout at Wensley Road, Churchill Avenue and Hill Street Rip and Remake.
  • Lighting. The conversion of street lamps to LED is on track for completion by June. Also planning is underway to convert Parks and Reserves lights which will also be completed by late June.
  • Other work. Members of the Richmond’s Men’s Shed have recently completed painting (stain) the seats and gate in Sundial Square. Site Services re-cut a new track in the road reserve extension at the end of Hill street that connects to Hill Street South. Members of the Men’s Shed have also been involved in some of this work with clearing and cutting grass and they will also be constructing a short section of shallow steps.
  • Cycle trail. A funding application has been submitted to MBIE for $223,481 for: Pomona and Marriages Roads off-road trail, Coastal erosion protection (Fittal Street), and estuary boardwalk and signage. The next focus for development will be: Wai-iti Domain to Quail Valley Road via Tunnicliff Forest, Nelson Forests Limited and Ewing Poultry; and South of Spooners Tunnel to Norris Gulley Picnic area.
  • Jackett Island. Jackett Island has experienced two medium storm events since the last inspection on 7 September 2015. There are no reports of any damage to the sandbag wall. The sand bag wall was inspected on 21 March 2016 and is generally in good condition. A further quarterly survey of the sandbag wall and beach profiles was undertaken in March.
  • Rivers. Expenditure for the river maintenance related work year-to-date was $657,000. This is $622,000 or 50% under the even monthly proportional year-to-date expenditure budget.
  • Storms. Total costs to date for road cleanup and reinstatement from the storm event on 17-18 February 2016 is $60,000, which has been funded from existing maintenance budgets. This excludes costs to repair Tasman’s Great Taste Trail.

Projects

Enclosed below are a series of you tube video’s showing the development of a number of engineering projects council have started during my first term on council:

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/2016/14April2016.

Engineering committee meeting (3 March)

The engineering committee meeting was held on 3 March 2016. Apologies were received from Cr Mirfin, Cr Dowler and Cr Edgar (for absence) and myself (for lateness). Cr Higgins also arrived late.

The agenda included: (1) Kaiteriteri wastewater pipeline replacement, (2) Utilities operations and maintenance contract renewals, (3) school zones, (4) NRSBU annual report, (5) engineering services activity update, and (6) chair’s report. I will highlight the main points of interest for me. The Richmond parking survey report was deferred to the next engineering meeting.

There were no public forum presentations. However, Cr Bryant noted that the Council had received a letter from the Murchison & Districts Community Council regarding the poor state of the Tutaki South and Matakitaki Roads.

Kaiteriteri wastewater pipeline replacement

Staff together together with Tonkin Taylor consultants spoke to a powerpoint presentation outlining the Kaiteriteri Wastewater Pipeline replacement project (formerly known as the Tapu Bay pipeline). Essentially the project sought to replace an existing temporary pipe with a larger 280mm pipeline, while catering for projected growth over the next 50 years. The new pipe would have a life expectancy of 90 years. Iwi were fully consulted throughout the project and supported the revised design.

In 2004 a temporary pipeline was installed as a temporary replacement for the existing pipeline (around 8.5km long) with a capacity of 27-35 litres per second. A larger pipeline is required for projected growth. The new pipeline will have a 90 year life. It will run from Cederman drive to Goodall road (around 8.7 km long), with a capacity of 29-38 litres per second. Pump stations at Tapu bay and Stephens bay will also be reconfigured.

The reduction in cost was mainly due to: (1) using a gravity fed system, so no pumps, (2) no significant private land purchases required, and (3) reduced consultancy fees. The design is also staged over two separate financial years. Spreading expenditure over two years reduces the pressure on rates. Had the work been done in one year, further rates increases may have been required to meet the expenditure spike in that year. The design phase will be completed by Q2 of 2016. A public tender is then expected to be called for in mid-2016. Completion of the project is expected by mid-2018.

Council endorsed the project.

For me the main highlight of this presentation was how the project had been revisited and redesigned to bring costs down. The initial cost estimate provided for in the Long Term Plan (LTP) was $4.5 million. However, the revised design was now estimated to cost $3.5 million.

My ambition for TDC is to bring about a culture change within the organisation. One that puts the customer at the centre of everything TDC does. For me, this presentation showed the culture was changing for the better within some parts of TDC. A culture of innovation and challenging cost assumptions. And that needs to be encouraged and complimented.

One of the design challenges with the new pipeline was a windy and steep road. The design also had to cope with variable wastewater flows which peak during the summer holiday period (illustrated below).

Normal flows vs summer flows

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Hydraulic capacity – comparison of current route (left) vs redesigned route (right)

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Maintenance contract renewals

The current Water Utilities Operations and Maintenance Contract (688) with Downer expires on 30 June 2017. Council approved the staff recommendation that a review be undertaken of the contract methodology and that a new contract be publicly tendered. Council also approved the existing contract being extended 12 months until 30 June 2018, so that the review and tendering process could be undertaken.

The current contract was awarded in July 2007 and was awarded for three operational periods (3 + 3 + 4 years), subject to satisfactory performance. The contract has a value of approximately $5 million per annum.

Staff also considered aligning the end of the new contract with the end of the Nelson City Council’s current utilities contract, held by Nelmac. This was considered a risk and the shorter term of the contract to achieve this would not be cost-effective for Tasman District Council.

It was suggested that a minimum overall term of 9 years 2018-2027 (5 + 2 + 2 years or similar) would be optimum both in terms of cost effectiveness and efficiency. This would also provide possible intervals for future alignment with Nelson City Council’s next procurement round, expected circa 2023 or later.

I support any opportunities for alignment that might generate future cost savings. Although I agree that that alignment must be balanced against ensuring we get good value for money now.

School zones

Council approved the installation of a variable speed limit school zone signage for Ranzau School, Motupipi School, and Hope School. Council also approved the installation of standard school warning signs for Central Takaka School and Dovedale School. In addition council, approved the installation of a static “40 when children present” signs for Brooklyn School, Mapua School, Lower Moutere School, and Mahana School. Additional standard school warning signs on Greenhill Road were also approved for Ngatimoti School.

School Action Cost
Ranzau School Install variable school signs $21,000
Motupipi School Install variable school signs $21,400
Hope School Install variable school signs $24,800
Brooklyn School Install static school zone signs $13,500
Mapua School Install static school zone signs $13,400
Lower Moutere School Install static school zone signs $9,000
Mahana School Install static school zone signs $9,000.00
Central Takaka School Review location and install additional standard school warning signs $1,200
Dovedale School Review location and install additional standard school warning signs $600
Ngatimoti School Review location and install additional standard school warning signs $400
Total cost   $114,300.00

Funds of $20,000 were allocated in this financial year with a further $120,000 provided in the next financial year. The funding for these signs would come from the minor improvements budget.

NRSBU annual report

The council received copies of the Nelson Regional Sewerage Business Unit (NRSBU) Annual Report 2014-15 and the Business Plan 2016-17 (attached to the agenda).

The NRSBU reported a surplus of $1,934,722 for 2014-15 (in contrast to a $1,631,099 surplus in 2013-14). Total revenue was $7,568,700, less total expenses of $5,633,978. Equity at year end was $38,849,766.

Several performance indicators are illustrated below. The report included additional performance indicators.

Best Island treatment plant 

NRSBU-2014-BestIsland

Overflow events

Three overflow events occurred during the year (as illustrated below).

NRSBU-2014-PR3-2

Odour events

No odour events were reported during the year.

NRSBU-2014-PR3-4

Average inflow to Bell Island

NRSBU-2014-PR7-1

Bio-solid applications

The graph below shows the application of nitrogen at Rabbit island and Bell Island is within capacity levels of these areas.

NRSBU-2014-PR7-7

Benchmarking performance

Treatment plant Operational costs Daily average inflow m3/ day Average BOD load mg/L Power kWh/month Dry solids Cost per m3 Cost per kg BOD Cost per population equivalent
Best Island $2,997,000.00 13296 440 299806 822 $0.62 $1.40 $32.77
Benchmark $2,917,709.00 16749 377 314631 706 $0.48 $1.26 $29.55

Capital expenditure (renewals)

Renewal Budget Costs
Miscellaneous $3,826.00
Inlet $8,588.00
Pump stations $73,371.00
Alteration basin $14,737.00
Primary clarifier $12,869.00
Sludge treatment $194,560.00
Sludge treatment A-train $17,186.00
Ponds $29,542.00
Rabbit Island $14,956.00
Total $658,000.00 $368,635.00

Engineering activity report

Highlights from the manager’s report include:

  • Asset management systems: Waugh Consulting has been engaged to lead a project to review asset management (AM) systems and processes across the council.
  • Asset condition survey: Downer are currently undertaking a condition survey of above ground assets at all major sites (pump stations, reservoirs, treatment plants, floodgates). This is the first time that a major condition survey has been completed using digital systems rather than a paper-based system which involved double-handling to enter data.
  • Property developments: Stage-3 of the Wahanga Ltd development off Grey Street, comprising 36 fully serviced residential lot is nearing completion. The final stage of Trek Developments Richmond (end of Fairose Drive), compromising 21 residential lots, has been completed. Hart Subdivision Richmond (Corner of Hill Street and Hart Road) comprising 32 residential lots, has begun. Stages 4 and 6 of Mapua Joint Ventures development, comprising 20 residential lots and a reserve is underway. Two new supermarkets are proposed (one at the corner of Salisbury Road and Champion Road, and the other at the corner of SH6 and Bateup Rd (Three Brothers corner). An application in Richmond South at the southern corner of Paton Road and Hart Road\Bateup Road (comprising around 200 to 300 residential sections) was expected (but did not eventuate).
  • Water treatment plants: The Richmond Water Treatment Plant has been operating well with only some minor teething issues with electronic programming that were resolved. Prior to Christmas the bore pump at Riwaka failed on the Kaiteriteri water scheme. A spare pump was available from another pump station and was installed urgently over a weekend by the contractor. A spare pump was purchased for this facility as a backup and will be used as the standby pump for the next upgrade. E coli was detected at the Champion Road Reservoir just before Christmas, subsequent sampling for three days provided clear results.
  • Stormwater: Pre-storm checks were carried out prior to the start of the Nelson Anniversary-Waitangi Day holiday period and again prior to the recent rain storm event on 17-18 February 2016. The Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) of the storm event in Richmond was 4% (1-in-25 year) over a 24-hour period. Overall the stormwater system capacities were tested and worked well with no pipe blockages.
  • Footpaths: Concrete and Metals have now completed all the footpath rehabilitation and pram ramp sites in Richmond and Wakefield. A new footpath was also constructed in River Terrace Road Brightwater.
  • Lighting: Over 1500 LED lights were installed up to the end of January 2016, with around 700 remaining. The total conversion should be completed by the end of March 2016.
  • Consents: Engineering Services staff have recently received notification that the Global Spraying Consent has been granted. The Council has a 15 year consent to carry out a variety of activities with regard to weed management.
  • Waste: Kerbside recycling volumes continue to climb, with an on-going increase of 22% when compared with last year. This is being driven by growth in non-glass recycling, while glass recycling is slightly down. Regional waste to landfill is illustrated below.

NRSBU-2014-RegionalLandfill

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/2016/2016-03-03.

Engineering services committee meeting (13 August)

The engineering services committee meeting was held on 13 August 2015. It was followed by a 2 hour workshop on the proposed storm water infrastructure for central Richmond, and the opening of the new recycling centre (picture of recycled plastic bottles above). Apologies were received from Cr Canton, otherwise all councilors were in attendance.

The agenda was very brief and comprised: (1) the chair’s report, (2) the minor improvements plan for 2015-16, (3) the engineering activity report, and (4) a presentation from engineering form MWH. I will discuss the main items of interest.

Before addressing the agenda, the public forum received two presentations.

Public forum

The first issued concerned the shared use of footpaths in Brightwater. Garrick Batten raised concerns over the heightened risk of being hit by cyclists on the main street and wanted the “shared footpath” sign between the Domain and the shops removed. He suggested a new sign should read “cyclists shall walk”.

The second issue related to erosion of a road next to a river in Murchison that provided sole access to three residential homes (and forestry land). Cr Bryant, read out a letter from Rob Landau, that raised concerns over how council was responding (or not responding) to the problem. He felt the council should be proactive in resolving this problem and pointed out that part of the road was on reserve land. He felt council had a moral obligation (ie social justice) to do something, given council had authorised development along this road. The mayor indicated that a council delegation would investigate the issue further.

Minor improvements

The report sought council approval for 8 engineering projects that were discussed at an earlier workshop held on 2 July 2015. I was unable to attend that workshop, but did have the opportunity to read the supporting workshop documents.

The workshop documents outlined 21 potential minor improvement projects that were assessed against various criteria (eg, safety, risk, and community demand), so they could be ranked. Some of these projects were already on hold, pending further consultation (for example, Motueka’s signalised pedestrian crossing, Salisbury Road mid-block crossing, and four others). Of the 21 projects, the workshop documents provided additional detail of the 9 highest ranked projects (that were not already on hold).

By way of background, the NZTA had already approved council’s request for $2.97 million under minor improvements in the 2015-18 period under the Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP). This comprised: $966,000 (for 2015-16), $991,000 (for 2016-17), and $1,017,000 (for 2017-18). This funding was NZTA’s contribution towards the total cost of proposed minor improvement projects. The NZTA contribution provided 52% of the total cost of a qualifying project, with the council funding the remaining 48%.

The 9 projects considered at the workshop are outlined below.

Project Description Total Cost TDC Cost
Wallace Street pedestrian crossing, Motueka The speed limit on the street was 50km and there had been 3 incidents at the intersection (one was a car vs pedestrian incident) in the last 10 years. The project involved relocating the crossing an additional 3m east from the intersection and constructing a new kurb layout that reduced the street width near the intersection. $40,000.00 $19,200.00
Whakarewa Street intersection This was was a cross road intersection with a speed limit of 50km. There had been 10 incidents (2 serious) in the last 10 years. The project proposed sought to widen the turning area (that would allow a round-about in the future), improve line of sight, and cut back the existing traffic island. $100,000.00 $48,000.00
Mapua Drive footpath The speed limit along this road was currently 60km. There were no reported incidents in the last 10 years. The area was being developed for residential use (previously apple orchards). The project proposed a new foot path from Higgs Road intersection to Aranui Road. $200,000.00 $96,000.00
Mapua Drive round-about The speed limit was 60km and there had been 1 incident in the last 10 years. The project proposed a round-about (with four entrance roads) at the intersection, that would be co-funded by the developer, whose development would enter the round-about from a new road (Mapua Rise). Council were contributing up to $250,000 (50% of the expected costs). $250,000.00 $120,000.00
Lower Queen Street widening The speed limit is 70km and 1 incident along this part of the road had been reported in the last 10 years. The project proposed piping the 120m open drain near McShane Road. This would allow future widening of the road along this part of Queen Street. $150,000.00 $72,000.00
Motupipi Street (Meihana Street) intersection (opp Fonterra factory) The speed limit is 50km and there have been no reported incidents in the last 10 years at the “T” intersection. The project proposes removing the existing traffic island, adding a new traffic island in Meihanna Street, providing a right turning bay into Factory Road, and realigning the roads. $120,000.00 $57,600.00
Whiteside bridge widening The speed limit is 100km and there has been 1 incident in the last 10 years. The project proposes widening the box culvert by 3m to improve visibility when approaching or leaving George Harvey Road. $65,000.00 $31,200.00
Upper Moutere footpath The speed limit is 50km and there had been no reported incidents for the last 10 years. The project proposed a new foot path (100m) along the Moutre highway between Supplejack Valley Road and Sunrise Valley Road. $175,000.00 $84,000.00
Flett Road intersection, Moutere The speed limit on this bending part of the road is 100km and there had been 2 incidents in the last 10 years. The intersection had two entrance points (a “Y” intersection) and the project involved changing them to a single “T” intersection. $250,000.00 $120,000.00 *

* less the developer’s contribution of $69,000, under a consent order (of which the developer had paid $60,375).

Given possible legal issues around whether the Fleet Road project should proceed (or not), council resolved to defer the Flett Road project until legal advice and other solutions were considered.

Of the remaining projects, I raised concerns about: (1) Upper Moutre footpathing, (2) Lower Queen St piping, and (3) the Mapua drive footpath. I will discuss my reasons for challenging these projects below.

I also raised a broader question around the need to widen and rework so many roads. At the heart of this question was whether council needed to be investing so much into “minor” improvements. Something I had also raised when we were setting the long term plan. In my mind, just because we get a subsidy should not mean we should be throwing money at projects. Especially if they are minor.

By way of analogy, its like going into a retail shop sale and spending money during the “sale” event, because you have been able to receive a discount. The reality is that you still have to spend money to get the (perceived) saving.

I accept that the contribution does add value to council’s asset base – but the reality is that we cannot dispose or leverage those assets like in a private business.

The real question that councillors should be asking is do we really need to do this work and spend ratepayers money in this space. Is the work really needed now. And do we need to be doing so much work. Why can’t we spread these projects over a longer period, so they are affordable for ratepayers (the ones having to fund these projects). Why the urgency?

So many in the community question why council has to widen so many roads. It is seen as an unnecessary expense, at a time when the community cannot afford such rate increases. While the average rates increase across the district might be capped at 3%, the reality is that residential ratepayers rates increases are 1-2% above that mark.

It’s just not affordable when incomes are not increasing as fast. Rather, council need to be pulling back on its expenditure, in order to reign in rates increases to a more sustainable level. Minor improvements are seen as a luxury, that provide very minor benefits to a small part of the community. Rather, the money should be spent on major improvements – stuff that really needs to be done.

Unfortunately, some councilors did not appreciate me re-litigating discussions that had been had during the earlier workshop (or long term plan) – with accusations of “grandstanding” being made. I reminded the councillor that decisions were not made in workshops – a point the mayor had vigorously made in the newspapers some months earlier. Nor was my absence at the workshop, a license to not enter into a debate. The whole point of this public meeting was to debate the issues. If that meant items were re-litigated (from a private meeting) in the public forum, so be it. This was hardly grandstanding.

Further, while I appreciated I had lost the debate about the funding of minor improvements in the long term plan, I felt it was appropriate to raise the issue again, given we were now being confronted with the detail and reasons for these minor improvement projects. In my mind, council needed to take stock of the reality, and really ask if this work needed to be done.

Given the mood around the table was hardly embracing an examination of the proposed projects, I focused on the three projects that I had the greatest difficulty supporting. Namely, Upper Moutre footpath, Lower Queen St piping, and the Mapua drive footpath.

In my mind, the staff report did not provide enough evidence for me to see the justification for the Moutere footpath project. While there was mention by a councillor of safety issues for school children walking to school (a sensible justification), no mention of this reason was made in the report for justifying the project. Nor was there any mention of how many children (or adults) used this part of the road, or how many vehicles used the road at the same time?

If speed was the issue, then had alternative measures been deployed first? Was this a safety issue, or was it just a request to have a footpath by some residents because one it would be nice to have? Interestingly, the speed limit was 50km and there had been no reported incidents on this part of the road. The lack of any evidence to support a safety justification for the work, made it look like a luxury project – and I was not going to support a nice to have project. More information was required.

Fortunately, this argument found favour with the mayor and Cr King, and with their nod of approval it found favour with other councilors. Cr King also suggested that a footpath was unlikely to prevent a speeding car hitting a pedestrian and he suggested a driver feedback sign be deployed while further information was being gathered.

In my mind, the lower Queen Street piping project was another road widening exercise. More road widening for the sake of widening roads in anticipation of more vehicle use. Having visited a number of residents, one complaint that came across from residents when talking about road works was the perception of the council undertaking quite unnecessary work, which they had to fund. It is a message that was also clearly conveyed in the recent residents survey. The message I tried to convey in the council chamber was that the community did not want any more roads widened.

Unlike the Moutere project (which had no road incidents), there had been one incident along this road, which had involved a vehicle going into the open ditch. Having driven down this road many times I was left wondering how someone could drive into the ditch? It was not clear in the report if it was the road or driver error that caused the incident. I suspect it was the later. Given it did not result in a fatality, was quite rare (one incident in ten years), and involved just 120 metres of the road, I could not see why we would want to pipe this part of the road, at this time. Put to the vote, I was the only one who did not support this project.

Mapua Drive was another footpath project. Those who have driven down this road (the old road to Motueka via Ruby bay), will be aware that the old apple orchard at the top of the hill has been replaced with a new residential development. A few houses have begun to appear already and a new round-about is about to be installed at the Higgs Road intersection.

The project proposed a footpath from the proposed roundabout down the hill towards the old Mapua Tavern on the corner. The justification was it would be used by new residents wanting to walk to Mapua, and in particular, the local school. In my opinion, the road in question was already very wide and provided sufficient distance from traveling vehicles to make walking on the edge of the road fairly safe (especially in comparison to the Moutere footpath project). In my opinion, people would probably want to walk down Higgs Road, rather than Mapua drive. Was council footpathing the wrong road? Further, the Motueka bypass had removed a number of vehicles (including heavy vehicles) off Mapua Drive.

In my mind, the project anticipated use, rather than responding to demand. If we are to reduce costs (and rates) “minor” projects needed to react to need, rather than anticipating need. So often council over invest in the wrong areas based on misinformed assumptions. Surely, the better approach was to defer this project to another year (or two), to see if there was such a need? What if all the residents were retirees? There was simply no evidence to justify this project. If it was a safety issue, then it should have been a “major” project, and more information around safety provided in the report – but, there was none.

In my opinion, we should be doing half of the minor projects we were proposing to do each year. And this was another nice to have, aesthetically pleasing, (minor) project, that could have waited.

Again, I was voted down.

Engineering activity

Engineering activity highlights include:

  • Gladstone Road traffic lights. These are to be monitored by new cameras and once installed (by July) will allow NZTA’s traffic operations centre in Wellington to manage the lights more effectively during peak hours. Effectively, automation over-ride by a central control room. Other minor adjustments will also be made around the same time to improve traffic flow.
  • New ice lights. These have been installed on Koere-Tophouse Road, Kerr Hill, Motueka Valley Highway, and Riwak-Sandy bay Road.
  • New LED lights. 100 LED lights have been installed during July.
  • School campaigns. A back to school print and radio promotion was run in term one to remind drivers to slow down and expect children around schools. Another campaign was held in June to “look out” for kids crossing roads.
  • Rubbish. Illegal rubbish dumping (fly tipping) has occurred in the Waimea. Electronic surveillance has been deployed on one site.
  • Rivers. River maintenance expenditure (2014-15) was $1,385,000 ($605,000 under budget). These funds will be carried forward into the next financial year. River classification “Z” funding is 50% subsidised by central government. There were only two applications for funding of River “Z” work (in Murchison). Waimea river hydraulic modeling will be undertaken to measure current performance of mitigation measures and aid future modeling.
  • Jackett Island. Sandbags remain in good condition, although there appears to be some erosion to the north.
  • Marahau boat launching ramp. The steel walkway to the timber jetty has been reinstalled.
  • Ruby bay revetment wall. The repair of steps from Tait Street to the foreshore have been deferred until storm water outlet repair work has been completed.
  • Solid waste. The new recycling service is now up and running. In my opinion, this has been a very well managed transition to a new service and staff should take some satisfaction in its implementation. Feedback from residents I have spoken to so far (I’m doing a mid-term walk about in Richmond), have nothing but praise for the new service. Of course, there will be glitches, but its the putting right that counts. And in case you were wondering, your recycling bin has an average life expectancy of 10-15 years.
  • York Valley. Work also continues on a regional landfill agreement (at York Valley) with NCC. In my opinion, this is a no brainer, and it surprises me that NCC councillors have not been more supportive of the initiative. No doubt NCC’s review of the proposal (by Deloitte) will show this is a good proposal for the region. And hopefully the start of a few more joint service initiatives that save ratepayers in both regions money (and rates).

MWH presentation

The presentation was intended to introduce key members of the MWH engineering team to councilors. The presentation outlined the international experience of the company and their areas of expertise (see http://www.mwhglobal.com).

MWH had been an established provider of engineering advice to council for 15 years. For example, MWH were currently engaged to provide storm water modeling advice to council.

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/engineering-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EngineeringServicesCommittee/2015/2015-08-13.

Recycling centre – opening

Finally, after the meeting was closed, councillors were invited to attend the opening of the new recycling centre. Crs Mirfin, Norris, Dowler, Higgins, Sangster, and myself attended with the mayor.

It is an amazing operation and will be of real benefit to Tasman (and perhaps Nelson) region in reducing the amount of waste going to landfills (and the cost of operating landfills). And that has to be good for the environment (and the ratepayers pocket).

Media references

http://nelsonlive.co.nz/news/2015/08/new-state-art-recycling-plant/

http://nelsonlive.co.nz/news/2015/07/smooth-start-new-recycle-bins/

http://nelsonlive.co.nz/news/2015/08/video-new-recycling-plant-unveiled/