A&F Bulletin - $1 million subsidy for drinking water

Columns
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

In my last column here in the Bulletin, I reiterated what a major issue the lack of quality drinking water has been for Seddon.

Since that column was published, the Government announced a $1 million drinking water subsidy for the town’s planned $3 million water filtration system.

This significant Government support means the community can finally afford high-quality, safe drinking water, straight from the tap.
It’s great news for families living and working in Seddon: After all, good health is the foundation of a happy and productive life.

It’s been a long road to get here, with a lot of time and effort put in by many individuals.

I want to acknowledge the hard work put in by the Marlborough District Council, who successfully lobbied on behalf of Seddon locals to secure the further $1 million Government funding; this is a wonderful achievement. I must also add that council was supported in their application by the Nelson Marlborough District Health Board and the Ministry of Health.

I also applaud the actions of the Awatere Seddon Water Group for what they have done for their town.

Seddon’s drinking water scheme funding comes from the Government’s Drinking-water Subsidy Scheme – a 10-year programme aimed at helping small, disadvantaged communities establish or improve their drinking water supplies.

This round of funding was the last one. Since the scheme began, more than $10 million has been approved for a total of 19 projects.

As I said in my previous column, economics make it difficult for small communities with a small ratepayer base to support the often significant cost of large projects like improving drinking water.
It’s something Seddon has grappled with for many years. More expensive options for improving Seddon’s drinking water have been on the table in the past, but Seddon residents made it clear they simply could not afford to pay for it.

To reduce the strain on ratepayers for the $3 million filtration system, the Marlborough District Council has spread the cost of across a larger ratepayer base throughout the region: Each Marlborough property will pay $8 towards it per year and Seddon properties a maximum of $240 per year.

But without the Government’s $1 subsidy, Seddon may have been forced to look at cheaper options for their drinking water filtration systems and this could have meant the water still did not meet quality standards.

Construction of Seddon’s new water filtration system is planned to begin in July next year but there are still a number of steps to be taken before then. Marlborough District Council assets and services manager Mark Wheeler says that now Government funding is secured, a site must be finalised and design specifications, parameters and standards established. Council has opted for a design-build to keep costs down, so Council may seek expressions of interest before going to full tender, for which a date will be set as planning progresses.

I will be watching progress with great interest and very much look forward to the momentous day when I can visit Seddon to enjoy a glass of water straight from the tap.