Waingawa water project gets green light

7:17 pm on 29 March 2024
The Waingawa River near the industrial area.

The Waingawa River near the industrial area. Photo: Supplied/Wairarapa Times-Age

Carterton councillors have voted to progress a $2.77m water project, despite being advised by senior staff on two occasions not to.

The Waingawa Process Water Project, which was announced last year, would boost water resilience in the Waingawa industrial park in the Carterton district.

It would be government-funded to the tune of $1.75m, and was given the green light to proceed at Wednesday's council meeting.

Voting against the project were councillors Grace Ayling, Brian Deller, and Steve Lawrence.

Mayor Ron Mark, who voted in favour of the project said, "you don't give up until you're dead" in reference to seeking more external funding to bolster the project.

Councillor Robyn Cherry-Campbell spoke passionately in support of the project and its importance for Wairarapa's water resilience.

She said now was not the time to "pull the plug on it".

Last month, council staff presented an update on the project, informing elected members that the estimated costs had increased from $2.5m to $2.77m, with the difference needing to be met by ratepayers.

Councillors voted unanimously to investigate the project further and have further conversations with potential funders.

Since that meeting, the project has received Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy [WEDS] funding of $128,000.

The project has also be rescoped to take water from the Water Race to fill the existing 2500 cubic metre storage tank instead of establishing a new borehole.

Even with the change in scope, the estimated cost remains the same as previous because major works are needed to pump the process water from the tank to wood processor JNL, the major water user in the industrial area.

Going ahead with the project would result in a 0.48 percent rates increase which has not been included in the current draft long term plan, which signals an average rates rise of 15.09 percent.

Senior council staff said external funding was fixed and so Carterton District Council would own the risk of project cost overruns or variations.

The water could also require further treatment to be suitable to some industrial users and water treatment was not included in the scope of the project.

The whole life cost of the project over 50 years shows a burden of $1.54m, according to a report to the council.

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