Wellington residents voice frustrations with sewerage system repairs

6:39 am on 26 February 2020

Inner city Wellington residents living above major sewerage works are fed up with the late night noise and what they say are broken promises to sort it out.

Corner of Dixon St and Willis St for sewerage pipe repairs in Wellington

The corner of Dixon St and Willis St in December 2019 after a pipe collapsed. Photo: RNZ / Emma Hatton

A major sewerage pipe caved in just days before Christmas at the corner of Willis and Dixon streets, which requires months of work to repair.

Residents and businesses from the central area gathered for another meeting hoping for a progress report.

But most left the rowdy meeting with their questions unanswered.

The main complaint was despite promises to keep the work between 7am and 11pm, the rattling of pipes, pumps and generators had been going late into the night.

Dixon Apartments resident Ben Kitel said the contractors had breached their working hours three times without contact or notice from Wellington Water or the council.

Even though he complained, he was sceptical the rules would be adhered to and he thought they would be having the same conversation next week, he said.

"Drilling at 8pm and 9pm in the evening, followed by taking bits out at midnight, I don't know, I'm not an engineer, but that's not emergency work, that's not crucial work," he said.

Wellington Sewage pipe blockage

Repair work on the pipe in December. Photo: RNZ/ Rob Dixon

Other residents were more concerned by the council's lack of knowledge about its infrastructure, which councillor Sean Rush, who holds the water portfolio, admitted was lacking.

He was asked about his understanding of the parts of the network that needed replacing and the age of the pipes.

Rush said he had been asking for a map of the network with that detail.

He wanted to get to a point where the council understood the network so it could fix things before they failed, he said.

Residents continued to ask who was going to be accountable, how much it was going to cost and who would pay for it.

Unfortunately, the answer was almost always - "the mayoral taskforce will work through that".

The taskforce, which is made up of councillors rather than experts, will take six months to review the saga.

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