Gore District Council is pouring millions of dollars down the drain with a new water pipeline system, a resident claims.
Meanwhile, the council at the centre of the criticism is standing by its decision to run pipes almost twice the distance of a direct route, making use of a controversial bridge project in the process.
Jack McIntyre is a retired mechanic who lives on a rural block behind the East Gore Treatment Plant - the new home of water purification for the town of 12,000.
The council decided to centralise treatment at East Gore because of constraints at the current
site, but the new arrangement means water now needs to be pumped across the Mataura River.
A controversial new walking and cycling bridge will be the link between Jacobstown Wells on the city-side of the river, and East Gore treatment plant to the north.
But McIntyre, who has submitted to council as part of its 10-year plan, believed the pipes should run in a direct line between the two points, instead of diverting the approximately 800m downstream to the bridge, and back up.
The diversion almost doubles the distance the water needs to travel, which McIntyre said adds up quickly considering the pipe is priced at $871 per metre.
"The cost of putting the pipe down through where they want the bridge is about $3 million more than just going straight up there like this," McIntyre said, pointing out key landmarks next to the Mataura River.
"There hasn't been one single councillor ring me and say 'hey, what are you going on about Jack?' I thought they work for us."
McIntyre said he was well-connected within the construction industry and had been told the council's proposed route was "hard digging".
Part of the council's pitch for the installation of the new bridge, which was opposed in a petition by over 1000 Gore residents, was its ability to carry water pipes.
The council estimated sending the pipeline via the new bridge would cost $2.5 million.
While piping in a direct line would cut that figure in half, the council pointed out the river was at its widest point between the wells and the treatment station.
Building a bridge in line with those two points would cost $5 million as opposed to the $3.7 million at the approved location, they say.
The council also believed it would not be eligible for already-approved funding of 55% from Waka Kotahi because of the less desirable location.
But McIntyre points out many Gore residents were opposed to the bridge, and cannot understand why council do not just run the pipes underneath the river.
By not going ahead with a bridge, and halving the distance of the pipes, council would immediately free up almost $3 million, he calculated.
A council spokesperson said they considered drilling pipes under the river but decided against it based off "recent experience".
"There is quite a lot of uncertainty and risk associated with that, and the potential for cost escalation [including] changing geological conditions, and the effect it has on the drilling process."
According to the council website, the new bridge will be funded by way of a loan, so as to "spread the cost across generations of beneficiaries [Gore residents]".
McIntyre presented at the council on June 1, but was not asked any questions on his submission.
"What you've said is no surprise to council. We're well aware of the thoughts you have over a period of time. This is not the first time we've seen this," Mayor Tracy Hicks said. He was thanked for "submitting a submission that has [left us] a lot to ponder on."
The new treatment plant would have a maximum capacity of six million litres per day, an increase of one million litres from previous limits.
The upgrade of the East Gore Treatment plant was expected to be completed by the end of this year.
At 39 metres high and 90 metres long, the bridge will be the longest and tallest cable-stay bridge in New Zealand.
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