Raglan’s representatives to Waikato District Council are confident that the community has had good engagement regarding Annual Plan changes to wastewater services that will see a targeted rates increase of between $124 and $180 for residents from July 1.
Last week, Waikato Mayor Allan Sanson said he was “surprised and disappointed” by the low turnout of ratepayers to council drop-in sessions to learn about three options of proposed works to mitigate the risk of sewage overflows in the district.
Council decided to consult ratepayers about an expanded programme of wastewater works after it was criticised last year for three sewage spills in four months into the Raglan Harbour.
Fewer than 200 of 11,000 affected ratepayers had turned up to the sessions about the options that will see targeted wastewater rates increase by between $47 and $254 across the district, depending on location.
However, Raglan Community Board chairman Bob MacLeod said while only five people turned up to a council drop-in session at the Town Hall Supper Room on April 27, he and Raglan Ward councillor Lisa Thomson had had great engagement with the public regarding proposed plans for wastewater system upgrades.
Bob said education programmes about the wastewater system had been held at Raglan Creative Markets and he and Lisa had been out on the street, outside the SuperValue, informing people about the options outlined in the Annual Plan consultation document.
“Society has changed somewhat. Now you have to go out and meet them,” said Bob.
“Because we had those spills, we have been engaged the whole time, we’ve been at the forefront of it all.
“Here, a sewage spills shuts down Raglan.
“It’s been quite interesting. People have certainly read the (Annual Plan consultation) document.”
Councillor Lisa Thomson agreed the Raglan public were well informed and engaged with the process.
She said she would probably be outside the library this week with information about the Annual Plan options, and would likely do a mail box drop to remind people to get their submissions in by May 15.
“People need to let the council know the course of action it should take. Here, in Raglan, we have to do something – we can’t not invest in our wastewater infrastructure.”
Lisa said while education was key – the Annual Plan consultation states that blockages caused more than 80 per cent of the wastewater overflows in the district in the past three years – the last two spills in Raglan were due to a broken pipe and failed telemetry after a power outage.
“Education is a big component in alleviating problems we have, certainly, but ultimately we do need to spend some money on our infrastructure.”
Of 259 submissions the council has already received, 51 per cent are in favour of option two, which concentrates on improving wastewater infrastructure near waterways and environmentally sensitive areas.
Lisa said the highest number of submissions from Raglan had so far supported option three, which would see an overhaul of the entire wastewater system across the district.
*Make your submissions on the Annual Plan by 9am, Monday, May 15. More information and the formal submission form can be found at www.waikatodistrict.govt.nz/annualplan