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Workshops on Wainui's environmental issues

7 May 2010

Workshops on Wainui's environmental issues

Council has organised 2 workshops to be held in Wainui/Okitu next week. These will provide an opportunity for residents to find out what council is doing to manage and protect the Wainui/Okitu environment and provide input into some of the decisions needed around future polices.

Council is keen to continue working alongside the Wainui/Okitu community on environmental issues that are important to this area. “We know this is a motivated community and we want to provide opportunities for residents to get involved in looking after their environment. At the Wainui community update meeting in March there was support for such an initiative,” said environment and planning manager Hans van Kregten. “It is also an opportunity to help interested people understand the constraints council works within. We are keen for a cross-section of the community to participate.”

The first meeting will be ‘after work’ on Tuesday 11 May between 6 – 8pm at the Wainui School Hall. For families and older residents who prefer not to come out at night, a morning workshop will be held on Friday 14May at the Wainui tennis club in Cleary Road between 10am and midday.

Staff from various council departments will be attending and setting up stalls. This will be a chance for residents to talk with staff on the matters that they are interested in.

“An issue that came through in previous consultations was that residents believe there is a ‘special character’ to Wainui that should be acknowledged in council’s urban design and planning documents,” says senior planner Kim Smith. She will be at the workshop and is keen to hear from people on what they think is special about Wainui and worth protecting. “When we know the details that residents value as ‘special character’ we can help protect them. This could relate to height rules, street design or appropriate section sizes. It is important that those interested come and have a chat to me as these discussions could result in changes to rules and policies that affect new development in the area.”

A proposal to reticulate Wainui in 2008 was rejected. The onus remains on property owners to keep their septic tank operating to a reasonable standard.  How residents maintain and monitor their own system needs to be formalised and a ‘warrant of fitness’ scheme is one proposal according to environmental health officer Judith Robertson. She will present a range of septic tank monitoring systems that council is investigating. “When the Wainui reticulation scheme was rejected residents committed to a higher level of self-monitoring to protect the area’s ground water. We are keen to hear about which option is preferred and the level of regulation and cost residents are comfortable with. If residents prefer little or no regulation, then the risks to the environment are higher. Community feedback is essential for council to make a decision. I will have models available for people to look at that will hopefully help people understand what the issues are.”

Environmental health officer Tracey Panton will also be attending with information on how council monitors water at Wainui. “Currently council takes regular water samples from the Hamanatua and Wainui Streams to monitor for faecal levels. We also monitor groundwater to gauge the impact of septic tanks and to monitor changes in water quality over time. This is done so we can warn people when there is a risk to their health. We are currently looking at updating our environmental monitoring options. We need feedback on what residents would like monitored, how they would use this information and how they would like to access it. This will help us provide a better service to the community.”

Over the last couple of years Wainui residents have been very interested how growth in the area will be controlled especially around new subdivisions. Council has to work within the Resource Management Act (RMA) when making decisions on this matter. Hans van Kregten will be at the workshops to answer questions about the RMA and how residents with concerns can have these considered  as part of the decision making process.