Who’s to blame for sewage leak?
Queenstown Lakes District Council boss Duncan Field is investigating a “Yes, I said it – no, he didn’t” dispute over a serious sewage leak.
Earlier this month, QLDC mounted an urgent clean-up after partially-treated effluent leaked from a Shotover Delta sewage pond onto the nearby riverbank via an overlooked pipeline.
Mountain Scene has been told Bill Lind, a manager with contractor Fulton Hogan – which has a gravel yard between the sewage pond and the river – reported the overflow as long ago as last December to an official of QLDC quango Lakes Engineering.
The LE official is known to Mountain Scene but the paper’s decided not to name him because he’s on holiday and can’t be reached for his side of the story.
But the quango official, so the story goes, sat on his hands and failed to act.
Field’s aware of Lind’s allegation: “I’ve gone back to [the quango official] and he does not recollect that conversation.”
If Lind did warn of the leak, Field speculates, it may have been over a Christmas lunch or a beer.
“It’s one of those “He said, they said” type things. What do you do when one guy says he did and one guy says he didn’t?
“I’m really confident if Bill Lind had rung in [to QLDC] and reported it, we could have tracked it all the way through.”
Lind also couldn’t be contacted – he’s on holiday, too.
Whoever’s right, Field says, “from evidence I’ve seen [the leak] was probably occurring before Christmas”.
QLDC still awaits an independent report from consultants Duffill Watts but Field says the leak raises concerns over whether council contractor United Water was running the ponds “as rigorously as it could be”.
He confirms United must pay for contaminated soil to be dumped in the landfill.
QLDC boss Duncan Field claims staff numbers will reduce when quango Lakes Engineering is absorbed inhouse, as proposed.
By his reckoning, engineering staff – currently split between QLDC, Lakes Engineering and consultants – will reduce from 37 to 32.
That 32 will comprise 24.5 QLDC staff, a project manager for the new Wakatipu sewerage plant, a traffic demand manager – 75 per cent funded by the Government – and five external contractors.
Field predicts savings of $3.3 million per annum.