Airport blocks new $100,000 toilets

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A major stink is brewing between two council-controlled organisations over new public loos in Frankton. 

Lakes Leisure has spent $100,000 installing a new toilet block on its Events Centre fields for sports groups – but they’re not working yet because Queenstown Airport Corporation refuses to let them connect to a sewer main. 

The main is eight metres into the airport’s boundary. 

The sewer pipe is controlled by Queenstown Lakes District Council – which also owns the two organisations at odds with each other. 

Six weeks after the toilets were built, both parties still can’t agree and temporary port-a-loos are now in place. 

QAC chief executive Steve Sanderson says Lakes Leisure never consulted with the aerodrome till after the loos were built. 

“You’d have to say they’ve made some poor decisions along the way,” he says. 

Sanderson’s refusing to budge on letting Lakes Leisure connect its new lateral pipes with the council main. 

“We’ve got a general policy where we don’t give easements on airside. The fact is, we don’t know what we don’t know, and history tells us [it’s not a good idea],” he says. 

“For example, during the construction of the runway end safety area, there was an easement for town irrigation that was in the way. It was quite costly for us to move it.” 

Lakes Leisure event and venues boss JD Marrable concedes the lack of consultation with QAC was an oversight on his behalf. 

Marrable originally had two options for connecting with the main – build a system to pump waste uphill into a sewer trap on Lakes Leisure land, or install a gravity-fed sewer line connecting at QAC land. 

The first option was scrapped because it was more expensive. Marrable maintains a legal easement isn’t required with the second option. 

“I’m trying to reduce costs to the ratepayer,” Marrable says. 

“It’s frustrating because the sewer main is a council asset. At the end of the day it’s the sports groups and ratepayers that are losing out.” 

If Lakes Leisure must build the uphill pump, it will cost an extra $10,000 and blow the project budget, Marrable says. 

QLDC 3 Waters manager Gerry Essenberg says the battle is a matter for both companies to sort themselves. 

“I suppose they are parts of the council but they’re their own independent units. When they get it sorted I won’t have a problem with connecting to the sewer main.” 

Marrable adds: “We put the toilets in as a result of feedback from the user groups. 

“The toilet-change blocks are especially used by the cricketers who use those fields. Currently we’ve got port-a-loos out there, when we’ve got a perfectly good, 99 per cent operating toilet block.”