Tagged: Water management

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

20160303-K-Pipes-Flow

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

20160303-K-Pipes-Hydro

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.

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Environment and planning (19 November)

Environment and planning (19 November)

The environment and planning committee meeting was held on 19 November 2015. Apologies were received from Cr Edgar. All councillors were in attendance (with Cr Bouillir and Cr Sangster arriving late from their drive over the Takaka hill).

Cr Mirfin noted that the minutes from the last meeting were “a bit light”. I certainly share this concern. This is also a growing concern for a number of residents who show an interest in issues that council debates.

The agenda included: (1) national policy statement freshwater management, (2) private plan change for Wainui Bay (spat catching), (3) Alcohol licensing costs, (4) Food Act, (5) Annual Biodiversity report, (6) environment and planning services activity report, and (7) the chairs report. There were no public forum presentations. Much of the meeting was deciding to receive reports and approve public notification of them. I intend to highlight the main topics of interest.

A confidential (in committee) session was also held in relation to: (1) proposed rural land use subdivision plan change, and (2) building claim settlement. Workshops followed.

National policy statement freshwater management

The Freshwater Management national policy statement (NPS) was first introduced in 2011 and amended in 2014. The Freshwater Management NPS is being progressively implemented with full implementation by 2030. The work programme includes: completion of water allocation and flow management for the Waimea Plains water management zones, establishing community based advisory groups (FLAG groups) to develop water quality and quantity management provisions for Takaka and the Waimea Plains, scoping a land disturbance review )sediment and erosion control guidelines), and mapping of all wetlands.

Concerns were raised about the cost (and progress) of the FLAG groups. Some wondered if it was more cost effective (and timely) to just drive the process through public consultation, rather than engage stakeholders through the FLAG groups. While there was some merit in upfront timeliness, there was always the risk of downstream costs arising through appeal processes.

From my own experience, it is much more efficient to engage (and address issues) before going over the cliff edge, than addressing them on beach (under pressure). It also provides greater community engagement and transparency, as its all on the web to read (see http://www.tasman.govt.nz/environment/water/water-resource-management/water-catchment-management/water-management-partnerships-flags/). That said, it is incumbent on staff to ensure delivery expectations are met and any slippage (or scope creep) is avoided. Which is always hard when dealing with unpaid stakeholders.

Wainui Bay mussel spat catching

Wainui Bay mussel spat catching farms are considered nationally and regionally significant for quality and quantity of mussel spat. The private proposal seeks to extend the current resource consent in Wainui Bay beyond 2024, in order to provide commercial certainty. Council resolved to notify the public of the proposed plan change. The proposal is located on the councils webpage at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/environment-and-planning-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EnvironmentPlanningCommittee/2015/2015-11-19/PrivatePlanChangeRequestWainuiBaySpatCatching.

Alcohol licensing costs

Council is required by law to publicly report the costs of providing alcohol licensing (see Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012). Alcohol charges are set by statute (and regulation). Council is authorised to make bylaws for fee setting (see Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Fee-setting Bylaws) Order 2013), but has chosen to adopt by default the national regulation (see Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Fees) Regulations 2013). This is because it is considered that establishing a bylaw would be a “significant cost” and council is better to just adopt the fees in the regulations.

In my opinion, the fee setting in the regulations could do with some serious fine tuning. Clubs and community events are given higher risk ratings than perhaps seems justifiable and this results in higher fees for these activities. If there is a trade off in the risk rating process, it needs to be for activities that have resulted in public nuisances or offences. This would incentivise greater compliance, or risk ratings and higher fees. Another anomaly is the treatment of online sales. This is something that the government needs to urgently review. Online sales need to be given a separate classification and risk rating in the regulations.

Period: 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015

Total fees received: $197,946.00
Portion of fees passed to central government agency (ARLA) $13,970.00
Fees retained by council $183,976.00
Cost of administration $101,232.27
Cost of inspections $236,070.58
Cost of enforcement $5,5179.66
Total cost to council $342,482.51

Subsidisation by council is: 54% user pays and 46% rates funded. Staff aim to reduce the subsidation ratio to 60:40 through streamlining processes.

Interestingly, Ministry of Justice civil and constitutional unit general manager David King is reported as saying that the reforms aimed to improve New Zealand’s drinking culture and reduce the harm caused by excessive drinking. Mr King stated that:

The new system fairly reflects the cost of alcohol licensing . . . [it] aims to ensure licensing costs are met by the alcohol industry rather than ratepayers, who currently subsidise about 50 per cent, $5.4 million a year, of the system.

Empirical evidence (from Tasman) would suggest that the regulations still result in cross subsidisation of 50% or more. Perhaps its time for the Ministry of Justice to review if the regulations are working?

Food Act 2014 – new regulatory process

The new Food Act 2014 is soon to come into force. The Act provides for the council to provide registration and verification functions (from 1 March 2016). Similar to the Supply of Alcohol Regulations, the Food Act places food businesses into different risk categories which are then to operate under different regulatory controls.

The new feature of the Act is the separation of the registration function from the verification (audit and inspection) function. Only the Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) and territorial authorities (like TDC) will be able to register food businesses. No change here.

However, verification is being opened to the private sector. This means verification functions can be provided by TDC, or an approved provider (like AsureQuality). Food businesses will either develop their own food control plans or be part of a registered national programme. Most small food businesses will fall under a registered national programme. At this time, there have been no draft templates or examples of national programmes. However, there is nothing stopping a business developing and submitting their own food control plans.

All private providers will have to apply for verification status. TDC is deemed to hold verification status for verifying “food control plans”. However, council will not have deemed verification status for verifying “national programmes”. Instead, TDC will have to apply (like private providers) to MPI for approval and show it has met all regulatory requirements (like a documented quality management system).

The total cost of acquiring approver status has not been determined by MPI yet. Estimated costs are $193.75 plus $155 per hour to process the application. The amount of time to process an application has yet to be disclosed. Staff anticipate that developing a documented quality management system will involve substantial staff time (and cost).

Council resolved not to provide a verification function given the uncertainties and potential cost. In my opinion, it seems strange to deem verification status for councils in relation to food control plans, but not national programmes (where there is likely to be cookie cutter approach).

I would have thought if councils are deemed to be able to verify high risk activities they should also be deemed to verify lower risk activities? The distinction makes no sense, other than it requires councils to incur additional costs. Surely if the council is good enough to verify a high risk activity, it is more than capable of verifying a lower risk activity? Basically, council should be deemed to provide verification services for both food control plans and national programmes. If councils do not offer verification services for small business, the private sector will (in the short term) take advantage and charge higher prices for verification services – hardly business friendly.

Interestingly, MPI’s response to the distinction (from my own enquiries) is that:

Businesses that will be required to operate under a national programme include a large variety of manufacturers that a number of TAs [territorial authorities] have not been working with so it not appropriate to provide automatic recognition to TAs to verify these businesses.”

Adding that:

MPI is considering further the recognition process for TAs that may wish to verify retailers that operate under national programmes and will provide more information to TAs in the near future.

It also concerns me that a new Act is about to come into force and a lot of administrative issues are still being resolved by MPI. This is most unsatisfactory. Especially for councils, who are very conscious of additional financial burdens being placed on them by central government. How can councils be expected to plan for the future if relevant financial information (like fees and costs) have not be resolved by MPI. Again, this is a serious issue that government need to review.

Interestingly, MPI’s response (to my enquiries) is that:

MPI is currently working on the assessment process for councils and other agencies to become recognised to verify businesses under the Act. At this stage we are unable to say how long will take, and therefore what the final cost will be. … we hope to send this information to councils before the end of the year. One of the reasons for this is that we are currently looking into ways that the recognition process could be simplified for councils wishing to verify national programme businesses that they currently inspect under the Food Hygiene Regulations (as mentioned). Councils are automatically recognised to verify template food control plans, so will only need to apply for recognition to verify national programme businesses or custom food control plans.

I will be watching with interest to see how this plays out.

Check out the MPI overview of the new Food Act and compliance tool at www.mpi.govt.nz/food-safety/food-act-2014/overview/.

Annual Biodiviersity report

This was an information only report. Generally, council’s biodiversity programme is focused generating reports on lowland ecosystems, mostly located on private land. And involves a district wide survey of natural areas outside of the conservation estate to assess the ecological significance of these areas. The reports are provided to landowners to assist in management of the identified sites. As at 30 September 2015, 469 sites had been inspected with 309 reports generated. Many reports have been used as reference documents when considering planning applications, and policy reviews. Landowners (farming or forestry) have also used them for funding applications for pest control and restoration planting.

Council obtained central government funding ($26,000 per year) through to June 2017, but will be fully funding this work from July 2017 (due to an absence of any external funding). Current costs are $62,000 per year and are planned to reduce to $56,500 from July 2017. It is expected that the remaining ten ecological districts will be completed within the next 10-12 years.

Environment services activity report

Highlights from the managers report include:

  • Shop trading hours. Local authorities will have the ability to put in place a bylaw allowing trading on Easter Sunday. Essentially, the political issue (and cost of consultation) has been shifted to local government. While this delegates the decision making to the regions, it comes at a cost. Ideally, government would have also provided the financial support to implement this shift in decision making.
  • Hearing delegation. Council resolved to appoint a commissioner to hear the proposed Waimea water management plan change and make recommendations to council. This allows council to rehear the matter if it disagrees with all or any part of the recommendations. The council could appoint the commissioner to hear and “decide” the matter. If it did this it could not revisit the decision. From my experience, there appears very little practical difference. Most councilors are reluctant to revisit recommendations due to the cost of a rehearing. Nor are they keen to engage with the affected parties to mediate any compromise over issues that council might disagree with.
  • Building consent fees. The consents team incurred a deficit of $41,661 due to additional costs in meeting statutory timeframes from resource shortages. The increase should address this shortfall. Comparatively, TDC fees will still be lower than Nelson or Marlborough councils. For example, a single story dwelling will now cost $3,394 in Tasman, $3,900 in nelson, and $4,070 in Marlborough. For work below a value of $50,000, fees are now similar.
  • Richmond CBD. The Richmond town centre project was separated into (1) the stormwater upgrade and reinstatement project, and (2) urban density and design (and parking standards review) project. Richmond councillors were delegated with reviewing associated documentation in relation to urban density project. Unfortunately, staff and I were not in full agreement (at our subsequent meeting) on what needed to go into the consultation documents. I had hoped for a map, to show the areas of possible effect (perhaps showing different walking distances). Something that would grab the attention of the public when they were skimming the document. In my opinion, a map would easily let ratepayers know what areas might be affected – and if they might be affected. Instead staff wanted to use text (eg “within 10 minutes walk of the CBD”). Staff reasoned (based on some external advice) that a map indicating walking distances might generate a negative reaction. After some discussion, a compromise was reached to display a map at public presentations (ie at the Mall and Library), rather than on the consultation documents. In my opinion, staff need to be more courageous and transparent – and less scared of receiving negative reactions from the public. The public are pretty smart, and if it’s a good story, will be supportive. It’s about having an honest and upfront culture.
  • Financials. Generally, expenses are operating within budget and income is ahead. In response to my query about the extra wage related and overhead costs, staff advised that it was due to staff working longer hours (and charging extra fees).
  • Rainfall. Total accumulated rainfall appears to be lagging the average. Either, there’s a big rainfall coming, or its getting dryer.

20151119EP-Rainfall-p78

Chairs reports

Cr Bryant advised that a second steering group meeting on a shared “Land Development Manual” was held on 21 October 2015. In his opinion, there are ongoing challenges (and some unresolved matters) to align the engineering standards for Tasman and Nelson. However, he was optimistic of a positive outcome for both councils.

In my opinion, the winners of this process will be both developers and ratepayers – by making it easier and more cost effective for everyone to comply with one set of common standards – certainty should increase and costs decline. This is also another example of a commitment towards a “shared” approach to local government issues.

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes are located at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/environment-and-planning-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EnvironmentPlanningCommittee/2015/2015-11-19.

Media

Nelson Mail (15 December 2015) www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/75082540/Tasman-District-Council-to-increase-building-consent-fees

Nelson Mail (25 November 2015) www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/aquaculture/74386525/Wainui-Bay-spat-catching-farms-seek-certainty-with-private-plan-change-request

Nelson Mail (29 October 2015) www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/73338768/Community-input-into-Queen-St-design

Nelson Mail (20 January 2016) www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/76363857/richmonds-queen-st-carriageway-in-for-a-full-remake-tdc-says

Nelson Live! (19 February 2016) www.nelsonlive.co.nz/news/2016/02/interest-in-queen-st-makeover/

Dominion Post (1 March 2015) www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/9777663/Small-clubs-say-new-laws-on-liquor-hitting-hard

 

 

Full council meeting (10 September)

The full council meeting was held on 10 September 2015. All councillors were in attendance.

The agenda included: (1) treasury policy change, (2) capital carry-overs, navigation safety by-law, (3) public transport regional plan, (4) speed limits review, (5) unmanned aircraft policy, (6) Nelson regional sewerage business unit, (7) economic development funding agreement, (8) mayor’s report, (9) Waimea community dam, and (10) CEOs report.

Two additional late items were also considered in confidence: (1) audit subcommittee independent member appointment, and (2) Waimea water augmentation project. I’m unable to talk to these items at present, as they were discussed in committee and have yet to have their confidential status lifted.

Finally, two items were raised in public forum – with one raising a very interesting legal issue.

Public forum

Michael Croxford raised (and tabled) an interesting question regarding the treatment of development contribution levies by the council. By way of background, a developer (being the “consent holder” at the time the development is approved) will normally pay the council a development contribution. This financial contribution helps fund downstream infrastructural impacts from the development or proposed infrastructure that the development would benefit from.

In some instances council might decide not to proceed with implementing proposed infrastructural improvements. In those instances, council refunds the financial contribution to the consent holder (the original payor). In this instance, the Motueka coastal pipeline was removed from the long term plan requiring council to refund the development contribution. In some instances the original developer (the “consent holder” at the time) is no longer operating or has been liquidated. If it is a company it is normally removed from the companies register. However, removal from the companies office does not prevent a company re-registering.

Michael argued that the refund of development contributions, should go to the holder of the consent at the time it is deemed no longer required. Accordingly, where the developer no longer exists, the refund should go to the land owner as the subsequent holder of the consent. Essentially, his argument turned on whether the term “consent holder”, could import a wider meaning from examining other provisions of the Local Government Act (LGA) or Resource Management Act (RMA).

This matter was subsequently discussed during the Mayor’s report. The outcome of that discussion was that the council felt it had discharged its duty to determine (to the best of its ability) the legal position. That advice suggested that the “consent holder” was the payor (the original developer) and did not include the subsequent owner of the developed land. As Michael had not received a copy of the council’s legal opinion, it was felt that he should be provided a copy, so that he (and other residents) could decide whether they wanted to challenge the council’s legal advice.

Kit Maling spoke to the Waimea community dam update report (discussed below) and tabled a document outlining a resolution from the Waimea East Irrigation Company.

Waimea community dam

This item was a second (regular) project update for councillors. At this stage the project has been in slow mode (to avoid unnecessary expenditure) as discussions with WCDL progressed. The confidential briefing to councillors, updated much of what was stated in this part of the report. Once discussions with WCDL have been completed, planned work streams should move forward a little faster. The proposed work streams were outlined in my earlier post (see www.greeningtasman.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/full-council-meeting-30-july/).

Work that can be expected to re-gather momentum once discussions with WCDL have concluded are:

  • formation of a biodiversity technical advisory group (BTAG) to prepare a biodiversity management plan (a resource consent condition).
  • construction procurement process planning. It is being suggested that a two stage process (that comprises construction and design planning, followed by price negotiation and construction).
  • business structure planning. WCDL has been considering a variety of options (prepared by Northington partners). Staff will present a report to full council in October that considers the various issues.
  • preparation and review of pre-purchase agreements with landowners. These are agreements that hold open the ability to purchase the relevant land (at agreed prices), without actually entering into land sales. Effectively, the council avoids having to purchase land until there is agreement to proceed with a dam.

By way of background, WCDL acknowledged council’s recent offer to share the resource consent as joint resource consent holders (a 50:50 ownership arrangement). This is a change from councils original arrangement, where WCDL were contracted to secure the resource consent on behalf of the council and handing over the resource consent by a specified date or the formation of a CCO (which ever was earlier). WCDL has attached several conditions to this offer which council representatives have since brought back to council. Hence the confidential session.

I would hope that once all discussions with WCDL are completed, that relevant reports withheld under confidentiality are made public. I will certainly be advocating for this to happen.

So where to from here?

In my opinion, the process is at a critical fulcrum (or tipping point). I believe council needs to re-evaluate its relationship with WCDL. It has become very confusing and the lines between council and WCDL are very blurred. This has resulted in a great deal of uncertainty (and confusion) about who should be doing what, and who should be funding what.

At present council is both (sole) funder and service provider. Council is carrying all the risk (hence the growing concerns of council about the escalating write-off cost). Those roles need to be formally separated. Council should no longer be the sole funder and certainly not the main funder of a water solution that is being developed for the primary benefit of irrigators (who will receive over 2/3rds of the augmented water supply).

In my opinion, (as I have said repeatedly on this blog), WCDL needs to capitalise (as an investment holding entity for interested irrigators), so that it can take over this project as majority shareholder and funder of the dam. Like all investment vehicles, it needs start up capital to come from those investors who truly believe in this venture.

Once initially capitalised, WCDL can invest in developing a prospectus to secure more funding from potential investors to eventually invest into a Dam holding entity. The dam holding entity can then fund the services (and work streams) it needs to bring about the construction of a dam. Council can then evaluate whether it wants to invest in the venture or not. And can also compete against others, to provide project management services and technical expertise.

The parallel issue of water allocation and restrictions

Unfortunately, one of the most frustrating elements of the dam debate for me, is the confusion surrounding the water management (allocation and restriction) rules – which are set to change. Hardly anyone I speak to understands how these rules operate or how they impact on the way water is currently managed.

In my opinion council has done a very poor job in communicating the changing landscape of water management. This should have been communicated by council well before it began its conversation about water augmentation. Because this is “the” reason why council is having a debate about water augmentation solutions. Ironically, council were the ones who brought about these change in the rules, by way of a plan change a number of years ago.

However, the good news is that council has got its act together and is beginning to have this conversation. As part of the consultation process for proposed changes to the district plan rules, council will be hosting 2 open days for residents to meet and discuss the proposed plan changes. These are:

  • Wednesday, 7 October 2015 at Richmond Council Chambers (focusing on urban water supply), and
  • Thursday, 8 October 2015 at Seifried’s Estate, Redwood Rd (focusing on rural water permit holders).

Changes to water management rules

There are three changes to the water management rules.

First, water allocation is about to change. Basically, the amount of water people receive is likely to reduce. For example, people might have received a water allocation right of 10 litres, but only actually consumed 5 litres. This resulted in an over allocation of water. To correct this over-allocation, council will be reviewing peoples actual water usage. The review will re-calibrate water allocations so that they equal actual usage.

This re-calibration will also have an immediate affect on the impact of water restrictions on some water right holders. This is because water restrictions step down from the allocation right volume. If the allocation right volume was higher than real water consumption volume, the restrictions had no impact on water right holders. However, if the allocation right volume is the same as consumption, then restrictions will immediately affect the amount of water available for the water right holder.

For urban water users the allocation right volume is virtually identical to consumption. Effectively council has not purchased more water than it needs. Whereas, some rural water consumers have. This means any re-calibration of urban water will not result in any change.

The second change is the threshold for imposing water restrictions. The thresholds have changed (by way of an earlier plan change) so that they bite earlier (ie, at lower thresholds). These changes are even more severe for water users who will have their water allocation levels reduced to historical consumption levels (or use).

The third change (currently being consulted on) is the introduction of a dual water restriction system – one for those who are allocated water and are funding an increase in water supply (a dam funder), and one for those who are not. Those who choose not to fund an increase in water supply, will operate under the above rules (ie, the revised allocations that are equivalent to historical use, and lowered thresholds for water restrictions).

Those that fund a water supply increase, will effectively have a system that imposes water restrictions that take into consideration the additional water being added to the natural water supply. Effectively, using a different water restriction threshold, so that they can extract the water they have added to the river, before restrictions apply.

If council purchases water from the dam for urban users (estimated investment of $9 million) then they are less likely to see water restrictions. It should be noted that council has voted to provide $25 million towards the dam. With $13 million (of that $25 million) considered to be the environmental benefit contribution that will be rated across the whole district, against water club members (those people connected to a council provided water supply).

As I have said in earlier posts, I consider that the $13 million should be apportioned between the extractors (urban consumers and irrigators), rather than imposed across the district. Adopting an extractor pays approach would have resulted in council only contributing roughly $14 million towards water augmentation, rather than the $25 million that council has undertaken to provide in the LTP (see www.greeningtasman.wordpress.com/2015/06/02/long-term-plan-meeting-full-council-28-may/). In my opinion, the community should continue to put pressure on the councils (majority) decision to fund $25 million of the dam cost.

Speed limits

The council unanimously agreed to release for public consultation the draft consolidated bylaws on road speed limits for the district (see the “attachments” document at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2015/2015-09-10).

A number of changes to road speed limits across the district are proposed. For example, Ranzau Road will have its speed limits reduced. Consultation is expected to begin from 14 September 2015 to 16 October 2015.

My advice for people wanting to a submission is to read the attachments document. This is because the attachment document highlights the proposed changes (via track changes), so that you can quickly identify any proposed changes. While the public consultation document will highlight if a speed has gone up or down, it won’t indicate the speed it has changed from.

The attachment document also includes very detailed assessments and reasons for why speed limits were proposed for changed (or not). Those assessments include a recommended speed (based on model), additional staff assessments (that consider aspects not included in the speed modeling), and the working party recommendations (being Crs Norris, Dowler, Higgins, Bryant, and Sangster).

In relation to school zones, the draft bylaw proposes a managed roll out of advisory signs. The only exception is for Brightwater, where the Brightwater school zone will have the benefit of a reduced speed limit. This was achieved by the mayor proposing a separate resolution that proposed a speed limit reduction for the main road in Brightwater. A number of councillors were upset with this move, as it appeared to give special treatment to one particular street (and school).

While, I could agree with those councillors, that this treatment was not fair, I nonetheless supported the separate resolution, as at least one school would benefit from the proposed speed reduction. However, I agree with those councillors who opposed the mayor’s maneuvering, that all other schools zones should have had similar treatment. No doubt those schools will be making a submission to council highlighting the difference in treatment and inviting council to lower speed limits on their roads.

Treasury policy

Council’s current treasury policy requires any interest rate swap arrangements that are longer than 10 years to be approved by full council (which meets every 6 weeks). The proposed change sought to extend the delegated authority from 10 years to 12 years, to enable staff to take advantage of the swap market (which is very fluid at present), without having to wait 6 weeks for approval. Both the full council and corporate services meeting unanimously supported the proposed change.

This item was brought to full council from the corporate services meeting (held on 3 September) as the corporate services committee did not have authority to amend the treasury policy. This item was explained in detail at para 9.4 of the corporate services agenda (see www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/corporate-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/CorporateServicesCommittee/2015/2015-09-03) and discussed in an earlier post (see www.greeningtasman.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/corporate-services-committee-3-september/).

Capital carry-overs

Due to the nature of capital works, some projects planned to be undertaken in earlier financial years are either not started, or are not completed in the financial year they were planned. Often delays are due to weather or the cascading effect of other projects being delayed. This means funds that were allocated in an earlier financial year have to be brought forward into this financial year to enable the work to be completed or started.

Council unanimously supported the carry forward of $14.853 million from the 2014-15 year into the 2015-16 year. This does not have a financial impact in the 2015-16 year, as the funds for these projects has already been raised in the earlier years that these projects were planned to be completed. In the previous financial year, council carried forward around $20 million of capital projects. The reduction in carry forwards this year would suggest that council has made some progress in catching up on the delivery of these delayed projects.

A list of the projects being carried forward is listed in the agenda at page 15 to 23.

Navigation safety

Council unanimously adopted the proposed “Navigation Safety Bylaw 2015” which comes into effect on 14 September 2015. The new 2015 bylaw replaces the old 2006 bylaw. All bylaws are located on the council website at www.tasman.govt.nz/policy/policies/bylaws/.

The new 2015 bylaw is the result of a review of the old 2006 bylaw that began in December 2013 and involved public consultation during early 2014. During that consultation period council received over 212 submissions.

Since the consultation period the government has further simplified the law. This has meant that the new 2015 bylaw does not have to reproduce all the rules contained in the parent Act. Therefore, anyone referring to the Navigation Safety Bylaw 2015 should also consult the parent Act (the Maritime Transport Act 1994, see www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1994/0104/latest/whole.html), associated regulations, and rules.

Public transport

The regional public transport plan for 2015-18 was received and adopted by council.

I took the opportunity to reinforce the communities concerns that the regional plan is not used to drive (forgive the pun) further road widening projects (Wensley Road comes to mind). In my opinion, any expansion of the public transport network needs to utilise existing infrastructure not place additional financial costs on the community.

For example, a loop around Richmond that uses Hill Street, Hart’s Road, and Bateup Road (which is already earmarked for widening due to the proposed supermarket development) would be more appropriate roads to use as they have the capacity to take buses.

Unmanned aircraft

This topic was discussed in an earlier meeting (see www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/corporate-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/CorporateServicesCommittee/2015/2015-09-03).

Full council received and approved the interim policy on unmanned aircraft (also referred to as drones, model aircraft, remotely piloted aircraft systems, or UAVs). The policy should be read in conjunction with the civil aviation authority (CAA) rules (which came into force on 1 August 2015) and are located at www.caa.govt.nz/rpas/.

The council policy document is is located at www.tasman.govt.nz/policy/policies/flying-drones-and-other-unmanned-aircraft-over-council-land/. Essentially, the policy prohibits use of unmanned aircraft within 4 km of identified aerodromes (controlled airspace), unless permission is granted by the council.

In contrast, council has provided general consent to use unmanned aircraft on all other council land, unless prohibited. Prohibited land areas include: council offices, libraries, forestry plantations, Mapua commercial precinct and wharf area, various public and memorial gardens (such as, Washbourn, Pethybridge, etc), cemeteries, Motueka sandspit, leased land to other parties (such as, bowling greens, tennis courts, etc). If on doubt contact the council.

This policy does not cover privately owned land. However, the CAA requires unmanned aircraft operators to obtain permission from a private landowner or occupier before flying over private land.

Nelson regional sewerage business unit

Council agreed to renew the Nelson regional sewerage business unit (NSRBU) memorandum of understanding and reappoint the joint committee that administers the NSRBU.

This item came before full council because both councils failed to enter into a renewed memorandum of understanding before August 2015, resulting in the deemed discharging of NRSBU joint committee. The council’s resolutions effectively corrected this administrative oversight.

Economic development funding

Council received and approved the EDA funding agreement with Nelson council. The agreement looks to fund destination tourism and economic development initiatives for the Tasman region at a total cost of $400,000 per annum. These funds come from general rates. Nelson council will use the EDA and NTT (or other appropriate vehicle) to provide these services (and outcomes).

I note that the Nelson council has begun a review of both organisations and is not proposing to merge both entities (see www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/71888656/Nelson-economic-development-and-tourism-merger-could-save-100-000-a-year). I certainly support a merger as I have stated in earlier posts (see my discussion about tourism at www.greeningtasman.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/full-council-meeting-5-december/).

The council also established a liason group (comprising the mayor, Cr King, Bryant and Edgar) to improve accountability arrangements for service delivery for the Tasman district. In my opinion, this is an important element of the new process. Unfortunately the council in the past has not provided clear targets or outcomes for the Tasman district and therefore has struggled to receive anything meaningful in terms of measuring its return on investment.

While attempts had been made to target the cost of destination tourism to the commercial community (being those who directly benefit), rather than general ratepayers, the tools available to council were rather blunt (ie rating commercial land), and in the end the council opted in the interim to continue to use the general rating system.

CEO’s report

Highlights of the CEO’s report include:

  • strategy and planning. Council’s LTP consultative document was judged to one of the top 8 documents in the country. Council staff are reviewing the winning entry (and the other 6 documents) to make improvements for future consultation documents. Planning for the next financial year (including how we will consult with the public) has begun. A workshop was held on 3 September that discussed several issues including enabling the finance team to focus on forecasting (for the future), rather than just reporting on the past.
  • annual report. The annual audit process went more smoothly this year, with the annual report expected to be adopted at the next full council meeting on 24 September 2015. Appointment of an independent member to the audit subcommittee was addressed in a confidential session with the appointment being made by majority vote. The person appointed was Graham Naylor.
  • rules reduction taskforce. The government task force concluded that there were few loopy laws with many grievances stemming from service delivery and process problems. My experience has been that the interpretation of legislative rules by central government agencies is also an area of concern, especially in relation to health and safety standards (and there over zealous application).
  • people. Council are currently seeking 3 staff replacements. Collective employment agreement bargaining concluded with the union in August. This resulted in a wage increase of 1.2% for most staff – which was “just” within budget. A high level review of councils existing health and safety systems and processes has begun, with a view to implementing an improvement plan. Under the new Health and Safety Act councillors and officers have a duty of due diligence (ie taking reasonable steps to ensure compliance), but cannot be prosecuted for non-compliance.

Agenda and minutes

The agenda, attachments, and minutes are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2015/2015-09-10.

 

Environment and planning committee (22 May)

 

The environment and planning committee meeting was held on 22 May 2014.

Minutes have yet to be posted. But it is hoped that unconfirmed minutes will be available to the public soon.

The agenda (comprised 211 pages) and included the following topics (some not requiring any decisions): (1) outstanding natural features project in Golden bay, (2) dog control bylaws, (3) feedback on the mooring areas review, (4) climate change risk report, (5) recreation water quality report, (6) manager’s report, and (7) a presentation on freedom camping issues from the NZ Motor Caravan Association

Outstanding natural features project

The report sought direction on further steps to protect outstanding natural landscapes cross the Tasman region. At an earlier environment and planning meeting (10 April 2013) council requested additional information with regard to costs, timeframes, and other variables. Since 2011, consultants fees have totaled $162,000.

Staff advised that costs, time, and staff resources were available within budget to complete the work. On this basis it was recommended that staff continue the collaborative process in Golden Bay on protecting outstanding natural features, and at the same time start landscape assessment work for the rest of the District, with the end-point being a single plan change for the whole District.

Dog control bylaws

The current Dog Control Bylaw 2009 (and Dog Control Policy) is due for review by 12 September 2014. The report sought approval to commence the special consultative procedure in relation to reviewing the existing Tasman District Council Consolidated Bylaw (Chapter 6: Dog Control Bylaw 2009) and the associated Dog Control Policy.

I found this bylaw to be a very well written document with very useful illustrations of where activities are permitted, not permitted, or controlled.

The review process proposes to address a number of concerns raised by the general public, including: (1) a ban on dogs within the defined CBD area of Takaka during business hours, (2) a new leash control area in the Richmond foothills, and (3) a ban on dogs within the Sand Island area (near the airport).

The consultation period will be from 2 June to 7 July. The aim is to have a final draft bylaw to Council for approval and adoption by 14 August 2014.

Mooring areas

This report presented public feedback from the community engagement process on mooring areas held from January to March 2014 and requested council approval for its public release.

The public were consulted on creating new mooring areas (with combined Plan and Bylaw changes) or retaining the existing system.

The majority of respondents supported a change to the existing system (together with new mooring areas) that moves away from resource consents to a system of designated mooring areas and annual renewable occupation licenses The feedback report is contained in the agenda from pages 114 to 132.

Climate change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) released a fifth Assessment Report on climate change based on earlier findings released in September 2013 and March 2014 (see http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/). This report will impact on future planning decisions for council.

The IPPC reports confirm most observed and projected impacts identified in previous IPCC assessment reports. However, the projections are now more certain in linking greenhouse gas emission scenarios with impacts. And fundamentally changes our understanding of how these global impacts will manifest themselves in New Zealand (and locally in Tasman). In response to this report, it is expected that national guidance on sea level rises will increase – with the upper projected level rising by 2100 from 0.8 metres to 1.0 metres.

A detailed summary of the report can be found at pages 134 to 146 of the agenda (and provides some interesting information on projected rainfalls).

Recreation water quality

Council has monitored swimming holes and coastal beaches since the mid 1990’s in accordance with national guidelines and responsibilities under s35 of the Resource Management Act (RMA).

A total of 21 sites (nine freshwater and 12 marine) were sampled for faecal indicator bacteria between November 2013 and March 2014. Ten sites were fully compliant this season in all weather. National guidelines were exceeded 27 times (11 “Amber” and 16 “Red”) out of a total of 354 samples taken. Non-compliant sites included: Best Island, Patons Rock, Tukurua Stream and Pohara Beach (see Tables at para 5.2 and 5.3 on pages 151 and 152 of the agenda). This equates to approximately 8% of samples exceeding microbiological guidelines. Of the 27 non-complying events, 22 were associated with rainfall events. Excluding the 22 rainfall-influenced samples gives a compliance rate of 98.6%, which is just above the 10 year average compliance rate of 97%.

Using the Ministry for the Environment “Suitability for Recreation Grade” criteria Kaiteriteri Beach was graded “Good” and both Mapua Leisure Park Beach and Rabbit Island Main Beach were graded “Very Good” during all weather (see Tables at para 5.8 on pages 154 to 155 and 161 of the agenda).

Manager’s report

A petition (signed by a number of concerned residents), requesting that a proposed aerial drop of 1080 in the Pearse/Baton/Mt Arthur area be publicly notified, was received by council. Council was advised by staff that the aerial application of 1080 is a discretionary activity (under the Tasman Resource Management Plan) if it fails to comply with the standards and terms applicable to a controlled activity. As no resource consent application for the area identified in the petition had been received by TDC, no response could be made. However, affected parties could expect due process to be followed when an application for resource consent was filed.

The government recently amended the law on psychoactive substances (commonly known as legal highs) which has resulted in all such products being removed from sale. This does not affect the validity of the council’s Local Approved Products Policy (LAPP) which has been reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Health. Tasman District Council (TDC) is one of five Councils that already have an operational LAPP. The Ministry of Health is recommending that those councils who do not have a Policy, continue to put one in place. To date no legal challenge has been made against TDC’s Policy.

Two land parcels near the corner of Mapua Drive and Higgs Road both have “deferred residential” status. This means they cannot be developed for residential purposes until utilities are in place to council standards. Council is likely to grant subdivision consent for one parcel of land which can show that the subdivided land can be serviced to council standards.

Tasman Resource Management Plan Changes 49 (Private request Foodstuffs SI Ltd: Richmond south) and Change 50 (Private request Network Tasman Ltd: Hope) were approved as decisions and notified on 8 March 2014. No appeals were received to these changes.

Wellington City Council is proposing a remit be passed at the forthcoming LGNZ conference asking the Government to consider measures to reduce the disincentives to strengthen earthquake prone buildings. The remit encourages tax rebates for earthquake strengthening – that would benefit private building owners. While this would not directly benefit councils, it does support our community. I support this remit.

Appeals have been received from three parties (Fish & Game (Nelson Marlborough Region) New Zealand, Horticulture New Zealand, and Queen Street Industrial Park Ltd) concerning the outcome of an earlier commission hearing on the council’s water management policy. All three appeals are concerned with the “without dam” management provisions.

Fish & Game have representation on the the Waimea Water Augmentation Committee (WWAC) who support construction of a Dam. Fish & Game appeal concerns two main matters of detail relating to the management of over-allocation of water and maintenance of minimum flows in the Waimea River. The appeal seeks that over-allocation be phased out by 2030. The appeal also seeks that all water users be required to cease abstraction when Waimea River flows reach 800l/sec, except for specified uses such as water required for human health. The plan currently requires a 70% reduction in allocated use when flows at Appleby drop to 800l/sec with some exceptions. Queen Street Industrial Park Ltd seeks an alternative minimum flow of 650l/sec for the Waimea River. Horticulture NZ appears to be primarily concerned with the water allocation priority during periods of rationing and water shortage. The Environment Court has asked the parties to enter mediation.

There continues to be an accounting surplus due to underspend in salary costs (due to delays in filling staff vacancies) and some projects yet to be charged (and some may not be completed by year end). A full financial analysis of the E&P team can be found at page 199 of the agenda.

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes for this meeting are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/standing-committees-meetings/environment-and-planning-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/EnvironmentPlanningCommittee/2014/2014-05-22.