Lower Hutt Mayor apologises to residents after complaints over leaky pipe ignored

8:29 am on 6 April 2023
Contractors deal with slip at Point Howard in Lower Hutt.

Contractors dealing with the slip at Point Howard which led to 10 homes being evacuated and loss of water, power and gas for some residents. Photo: RNZ

The mayor of Lower Hutt has apologised to Point Howard residents for officials ignoring their requests to fix a broken water pipe which led to a significant slip.

Ten homes were evacuated and many more had power, water and gas cut by the slip which also closed off access to the area in March.

A timeline released by the council showed multiple reports from locals of escalating water flow and the road slumping in the month prior.

Mayor Campbell Barry said the council and Wellington Water failed to act, and complaints were not logged properly and were not treated with enough urgency.

"On behalf of council, I want to apologise for the inconvenience and disruption residents have had to endure over the past few weeks and the frustration this situation has caused. We are committed to doing better," Barry said.

He promised better communication in future and said the faulty pipe would be completely replaced rather than just repaired.

Wellington Water acting chief executive Tonia Haskell said locals deserved answers on what happened and the council-owned company had worked alongside Hutt officials to review what happened.

"Wellington Water is sincerely sorry for not meeting the standards our customers rightly expect of us after reporting a leak such as this. We acknowledge the inconvenience and stress the slip has caused, and we're taking this issue very seriously," Haskell said.

She said Wellington Water was amending its approach to prioritising leaks to account for the geography of the location of the leak. Six leaks in similar circumstances to the one in Point Howard had been identified and repaired as a result of the review.

A geotechnical assessment of the site included in the review said the landslide likely occurred due to a combination of a leaking water pipe and recent rainfall.

Point Howard resident Heather Armishaw said the apology was an encouraging start.

She attended a meeting, fronted by the mayor, with more than 50 other residents on Wednesday night.

She said she hoped other hillside neighbourhoods would now have their complaints addressed more quickly.

"The council and Wellington Water have been negligent but we've got to move on. We don't want it to happen to anybody else," Armishaw said.

In mid-March, RNZ reported Wellington Water was struggling to deal with nearly 3035 leaks which were responsible for the wastage of an estimated 40 percent of the capital's drinking water.

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