East Rotoiti – Rotoma Sewerage Scheme

Update 8 October 2020 - Action Plan

LRCA has regularly sought improved communication from Rotorua Lakes Council regarding the sewerage scheme at East Rotoiti.

On 8 October LRCA received confirmation from Infrastructure Management that the tender invitations for the onsite pretreatment sewerage systems were sent to the 6 shortlisted main contractors the previous week, with the deadline in mid November.

They predict that the evaluation team will have reviewed tenders before Christmas. They plan to conduct community consultation about the preferred option in January during the holiday period.

They have agreed to work with Phill Thomas (Lake Community Board) and LRCA in regards to planning the Community Consultation.

At the conclusion  of consultation, management will submit their recommendation to councillors for the pretreatment sewerage system to be installed on east Rotoiti properties.

Update 14 September 2020

Rotorua Lakes Council’s latest East Rotoiti Sewerage update of 14 September 2020 advises that tenders for an on-site wastewater pre-treatment system to be installed at properties in east Rotoiti, will be undertaken over the next 3 months.

Following appointment of a contractor and system Council will engage directly with property owners regarding site location and other relevant site matters. This can only be done after it is known what system will be installed.Properties will then gradually be connected to the Rotoiti network which has now been largely completed. The contractor undertaking this work has now demobilised from site.

With regard to the onsite system that will be installed the council advises that: “Council is yet to tender the on-site systems for the Rotoiti area. Only when that tender process is complete and a supplier appointed can Council discuss with property owners details of on-site arrangements”.

A complicating issue for the council will be that for a number of multiple ownership properties the owners can not be easily identified and without the owners permission council cannot install pipes on these properties. This will no doubt cause additional delays in the completion of the installations for some multiple ownership properties until owner approval can be obtained and thus the overall completion of the project.

The full update is available here.

Update 18 August 2020

LRCA have been concerned at the lack of communication from RLC on progress with on-site installation of septic tanks for east Rotoiti. Council has previously advised it was about to invite tenders but that has still not occurred. 

We recently met with Phill Thomas, chair of community board and LRCA followed up with an email to management of Infrastructure team at council. A prompt reply was received from General Manager Stavros Michael, providing update information, and committing to ongoing communications. These two emails are now published on the Sewerage section of our website.

Also published is the report recently presented by Stavros to the Rotorua and Te Arawa Lakes Strategy group, seeking additional funding to meet some of the cost escalation between the 2017 estimate of $34m, and the final project costs. This amount will not be known until the project is completed. The meeting approved the exploration of this funding from the residual settlement deed funds.

A short update on Rotorua Lakes Council (RLC) activity that relates to lake water quality to the Rotorua Te Arawa Lakes Strategy Group is also available.

LRCA will continue to interact with Council to obtain regular updates, and to meet with Council at the appropriate time to ensure we ascertain the factors that will influence the selection of the type of system that will be recommended to full Council for approval. Most particularly to understand the cost implications of options.

In its July 2020 updates the Rotorua Lakes Council advised that:

Tenders for an on-site wastewater pre-treatment system to be installed at properties in east Rotoiti, will be undertaken over the next 3 months.

Over the next two years, as engagement with home and landowners in the Rotoiti area continues, the new on-site systems will be installed and connected to the new reticulation network.

The capital contribution will not be levied until the scheme is completed and full costs known. This will likely be in two years time (2022).

Links to the RLC Updates:

Project Update - Protecting Waterways

Lets Talk - Rotoiti Rotoma Sewerage Scheme

Update May 2020

2019 has seen the Rotoma reticulation (network of pipes) being completed around August. This involved 22km of pipe work being laid from Matahi Spit to the Wastewater Treatment Plant located on Haumingi 9828 land behind Emery's Store. During that month, Rotorua Lakes Council conducted an official commissioning of the plant which included a pohlri at Taurua Marae and tour of the new facilities by those attending. The plant is designed to limit the amount of nutrients entering the lake and will treat wastewater to a very high standard before it is discharged to land.

The majority of Rotoma properties have now been connected to the network via their on-site STEP (Septic Tank Effluent Pumping) systems and are operating to the new scheme. The Rotoiti component of the reticulation project is currently underway and will extend to Tapuaekura Marae at the end of Curtis Road. The completion of this phase will see a total of 47.5km of pipe work having been laid. Work on identifying the preferred pre-treatment system for Rotoiti is progressing and intended to be finalised during 2020. The overall scheme has the capacity to expand the service area and will include the Lake Rotoehu community if an acceptable funding model can be secured.

As already known, there is currently a substantial capital budget of $35.3 million for the existing scheme which has been largely facilitated by Government, Regional and District subsidies. Around two-thirds of this has been expended to date. A total of 770 properties have been identified for connection to the scheme and there is a currently proposed targeted capital contribution from each individual property of $14,100 (GST inclusive) or $1,080 per annum over 25 years. This targeted rate will be applied following overall completion of the scheme (2020/21 ).In addition, once property owners are connected, they will be charged an annual maintenance fee (currently $540 GST inclusive) to cover operational costs which have been equalised across all reticulated properties in the District.

It has been accepted that these costs will be extremely challenging for many of our affected residents. Your Association in conjunction with the Lakes Community Board is continuing to seek possible options in reducing the amount of capital repayment. It should also be noted that low income earners could qualify for a partial rebate of overall rates. Inquiries may be made to Rotorua Lakes Council.

Lake Rotoiti Sewerage Schemes - A Brief History

Concerns over deteriorating lake water quality grew amongst Rotoiti residents during the 1970s and 1980s and continuing research improved local knowledge and understanding as to the causes. It became evident that septic disposal systems being used in our lakeside communities were to varying degrees a contributing factor towards this gradual degradation. Ensuing and persistent calls by LRRRA over several years eventually persuaded Rotorua District Council (RDC) to engage an external consultant group to prepare feasibility studies for 13 small communities within the District, including those around Rotoiti, and provide specific reports for each along with costing options for sewerage reticulation.

The next stage would be community consultation. Mourea/Okawa Bay and Okere/Otaramarae were equal second on the priority list and due to be consulted in 1997. Separate schemes for Gisborne Point and Hinehopu were scheduled for a later date. Council policy at the time was to fund new schemes 100 percent from general rates and given the ‘high capital costs’ implementation would likely be several years down the track.

As it turned out, 1998 brought about the revelation that the costs provided in the preliminary Consultants Report had been drastically under-estimated and current costings were prohibitively high meaning alternative options would need to be explored. A revised policy to deal with small community sewerage problems was now under development and clarification of responsibilities and funding implications would be addressed with Regional Council and Local Government NZ.

Notwithstanding further urgent calls from the lake communities, it would be another six years before commencement of the first of our lakeside schemes in Mourea/Okawa Bay. In 2004, RDC prepared a Statement of Proposal & Information Pack for Eastern Sewerage Schemes (Rotokawa to Otaramarae) detailing comprehensive costings. New policies would provide subsidised funding from the Health and/or Environment Ministries along with specific targeted contributions from BoP Regional Council and RDC. The balance of total capital costs after provision of subsidies would be borne by property owners within the scheme boundaries. Following resolute debate and submissions from LRRRA, RDC agreed that annual operating costs would be equalised across all reticulated properties within the Rotorua district. The Okere and Otaramarae scheme was completed in 2008 leaving the East Rotoiti communities to follow at some stage in the future.

The provision of sewerage reticulation to these communities was included in the RDC Long Term Council Plan of 2009-19. Proposals for the scheme to commence in Rotomā were contained in a Report to RDC Works Committee in March 2010 which summarised community submissions and included the implementation of a local sewer reticulation network and trunk main connecting to a wastewater treatment plant and disposal field located between Lake Rotomā and Lake Rotoiti intended to serve both Rotomā and East Rotoiti communities.

During the course of 2010, RDC newsletters were sent to East Rotoiti residents with updated information and the adoption of a recommendation to progress the detailed planning and design of the Rotoiti scheme to take in areas between Curtis Road and Morehu Road (Lake Rotoehu) and scheduled to be completed and operational by end of 2012.

More details emerged during 2011 which set alarm bells ringing amongst local residents. Firstly confirmation that the proposed treatment plant would be situated off Manawahe Road only some 500 metres from Lake Rotomā and an admission that the siting would allow nutrients to leach back into the lake. Secondly, the projected cost to individual property owners had ballooned out to around $18,000 which was clearly prohibitive and unaffordable for many households. Further RDC conducted meetings seemingly failed to acknowledge that, although a majority supported upgraded disposal, unreasonable costs would not be acceptable. Despite this, Consent applications proceeded without amendment and, following Hearings, were granted by BoP Regional Council.

In late 2011, appeals from Ngāti Pikiao and Ngāti Makino iwi representatives along with Rotomā/Rotoehu Ratepayers Association were lodged with the Environment Court citing both inadequate protection and cultural insensitivity in respect of the location and discharge from the proposed Treatment Plant. LRCA, as an original submitter, opted to become party to the appeals suggesting that the best means of resolution could be achieved through further mediation. In the event, failure to resolve iwi appeals through mediation and, unable to find an alternative treatment site following the Court’s invitation, RDC decided to surrender the existing consent in late 2012.

Renewed planning for the Scheme began in 2013. In 2014, an independent community group, the Rotoiti Rotomā Sewerage Steering Committee (RRSSC), was implemented by RDC to explore future options. This group comprised representative members from the two communities including technical advisors and a cultural impact team. From here, a preferred option was developed based on factors such as cultural preference, resilience in the event of natural disasters along with technical and social requirements. This recommendation was included as a Discussion Document in RDC’s Long Term Council Plan 2015-25.

Further progress made during the course of 2015 saw a local treatment site behind Emery’s Store, Rotoiti on Haumingi 9B3B Trust land being secured, work commencing on detailed plant design and Resource Consent requirements including cultural assessments. Locations for a Biolytix trial in Rotoiti were also finalised. An information pamphlet covering comprehensive details of the proposed scheme including approximate timelines was delivered to all mailboxes in the scheme area in December of that year.

More Information can be found on the Rotorua Lakes Council website.

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