The DrainWise project is about working together with property owners to help fix problems with wastewater and stormwater drains.
Too much stormwater is still getting into our wastewater network during heavy rain. This causes wastewater (sewage) overflows into our rivers and the sea. The main cause is illegal spouting connections and broken gully traps on private properties.
Our DrainWise programme launched in 2016, aims to reduce wastewater overflows onto properties and into our city's rivers.
During intense or heavy rainfall, some parts of Gisborne’s wastewater network are inundated with rainwater (stormwater) and the network can’t cope with the volume of water.
To prevent wastewater from overflowing onto private properties and out of manholes onto roads – which can cause significant health risks – we must release the excess water. The only way to do this is to open valves and discharge the wastewater and stormwater into the river. The discharge is highly diluted with rainwater, but there’s still a risk to health.
We only open the valves when it’s absolutely necessary and only in the areas with issues.
Our city’s river water quality is significantly impacted by wastewater discharged into our rivers, particularly during wastewater overflow events.
This results in health risks for our residents that use our rivers, beaches, and the sea. If we have wastewater overflows on private property, this then affects the health of that home.
Our DrainWise project has been set up to reduce these health concerns, working together with property owners and the community to help fix the wastewater and stormwater problems that cause the overflows.
In the 2018-2028 Long Term Plan we consulted on how we should approach the issue of reducing inflow and infiltration of rainwater into the wastewater system.
Submitters supported Council’s preferred solution that will focus on replacing 54km of old wastewater pipes in the public network over the next 30 years, and investing $6m towards improving stormwater drainage on private properties that are the worst contributors to the problem.
The programme is progressing well and will continue into the 2021-2031 LTP as planned, as we still need to do more to stop the overflows.
In addition to public works, the programme requires property owners to fix problems with their wastewater and stormwater drains to stop rainwater flowing into sewer pipes.
We’ll continue to work with property owners to inspect and assist homeowners and educate residents about fixing issues with gully traps, downpipes and underground pipes in their homes.
We need to work together
Council owns and manages 50% of the wastewater network. The remaining 50% is owned and managed by individual property owners, the responsibility lies with them to ensure they don’t leak.
Our inspections of underground private pipes have shown that about half are in a poor condition and leaking. When these pipes leak, they let rainfall into the sewage system which then struggles to cope, leading to overflows during heavy rains.
Ensuring the privately-owned underground sewage system isn’t leaking will help reduce overflows.
We are legally responsible for the wastewater network (for example, pipes and manholes) outside the property boundary. Homeowners are responsible for everything inside their property boundaries (such as pipes and gully traps).
The council-managed wastewater network is designed to accepted New Zealand standards, and under normal conditions would be able to cope with higher wastewater volumes in heavy rainfall events.
The problem in Gisborne is that the amount of rainwater getting into the wastewater network, mostly from private properties, is extraordinarily high.
The programme consists of a number of projects, the main components are:
- stormwater network upgrades and renewals
- wastewater network upgrades and renewals
- public drains on private property (stormwater public network extensions into privately-owned land)
- property inspections with the primary focus in Kaiti, followed by Whataupoko, Elgin and the rest of the city
- educating the community and raising awareness
- roll out of compliance and enforcement
- continue with minor public-funded works on properties
What we requested in the 2021-2031 Long Term Plan
Additional capital expenditure has been requested in the 2021-2031 LTP to increase emergency storage at pump stations and progress renewal of wastewater pipes faster than planned.
A consent application for wet and dry weather wastewater overflows was also submitted in June 2020.
- Wastewater network upgrades and renewals – $17.2m over 10 years
- Stormwater public network extensions – improving public drains on private land - $6m over 10 years
- Property inspections and investigations– checking and making minor repairs, giving advice, collecting data - $4m over 10 years
- Compliance and enforcement – making it easy and affordable to fix the issues
- Education and awareness – promoting good practices, campaigns like “Only Flush the Three Ps”
- Free minor gully trap repairs.
We continue to carry out property inspections, including detailed investigations as well as more focussed investigations (such as the rapid inflow assessments).
This work is being undertaken as part of our role in providing advice to homeowners, and to feed into compliance and enforcement processes.
We’ll also continue with CCTV investigations and smoke-testing to identify connections between stormwater and wastewater, and remedy these, or ask homeowners to implement the fixes.
The team has also established a Drainlayers Forum and a Property Managers Forum, which will be used to get buy-in and support from these key influencers in Tairāwhiti.
These forums, in addition to improved drainage data in Land Information Memoranda (LIMs), will enable improvements to also be driven from within the private sector.
- $4.1m capital expenditure is forecast for work on private property and $5.4m will be spent upgrading the stormwater network in priority catchments.
- Operational budgets for DrainWise (including water supply and stormwater budgets) are $3.8m over the 2021-2031 LTP.
The project is 100% Council funded. We’ll take on debt to fund the work each year, and increase rates to pay it back over time. We’ll also continue to look for alternative funding to do more.
DrainWise videos and resources
Get to know your gully trap
Mike Hall, a local Gizzy plumber “getting to know your gully trap…you’ll prevent a whole lot of pollution on our properties and our rivers”.
Only Flush the 3 Ps - pee, poo and (toilet) paper
Nick reminds us about what we should and should not flush down the toilet. Blocked wastewater pipes can cause sewage back-ups in your home or overflow into our city's rivers.
Sinks aren't rubbish bins
Check out these fatbergs! Dianne has a few tips on what should go in the bin, not down the sink and block our sewage system. How simple adjustments to what we do in the kitchen can make a world of difference to our pipes and save our rivers and the ocean.
Healthy water, healthy community
When water isn't draining right - it's not healthy for your family, your home or our rivers and beaches.
Here's information on what you can do. If you have flooding issues on your property.
Fill in our online property flooding form
Stormwater and wastewater don't mix
It's important that we all understand the different water networks so we can all help prevent sewage discharges into our rivers. We have separate networks for stormwater (rain) and for wastewater (sewage).