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Far North approves extra funds for biggest project

The Far North District Council has approved a $1.5 million increase to the budget of the Kerikeri Wastewater Treatment Project.

The Council agreed to the 5.8 per cent funding boost during its meeting on August 29, increasing the budget from $25.6 million to a total of $27.1 million.

The additional funding will cover increased construction costs, as well as extra expenses incurred by design modifications to the treatment plant.

General manager – infrastructure and asset management Andy Finch told councillors that construction costs had been pushed up across New Zealand by 27 per cent over the past four years, due largely to competition for resources from Auckland and other main centres.

This on-going pressure was highlighted in the National Construction Pipeline Report 2019 published recently by the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment.

Andy explained that extra project costs were incurred when changes were made to the design of the treatment plant after it was moved a short distance from a disused quarry to its current site to better accommodate expansion of the plant.

When commissioned next year, the new plant will have the capacity to treat 1000 cubic metres of wastewater a day, which is more than three times what the current plant was designed to treat. This will cater for the 1090 properties currently connected to the scheme, an additional 350 central Kerikeri properties that currently rely on septic tanks, plus a further 350-400 new properties in the Area of Benefit in the future.

Current growth predictions for Kerikeri indicate that expansion of the plant will not be required for at least 8-10 years. The new plant is designed to be easily expanded in two stages, each treating a further 500 cubic metres of wastewater. Each stage will allow for another 800-820 new properties.

Andy says the new 200-villa Arvida retirement village planned for Hall Road, and other developments being discussed within the area of benefit, may or may not reduce that timeframe. This will depend on the speed of implementation, currently planned over a number of years.

A report presented to the August 29 Council meeting says the increased project budget will have some impact on those connecting to the new scheme. The revised capital rate for properties able to connect to the new scheme had been set at $835.30 annually.

However, with the extra $1.5 million added to the project budget, the capital rate will increase by $52.48 to an estimated $892.52 for the 2020/21 financial year.

The final figure could be slightly higher or lower, depending on the final cost of the project.

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