Demolition of water tower may be delayed

Demolition of an unsafe water tower in Gore may be delayed so that more money can be spent on a $1.9 million wastewater project.

In June last year, Gore district councillors voted to have the water tower in Hilbre Ave demolished because, though it was structurally sound, falling pieces of concrete posed a health and safety risk.

Deferring its demolition until the 2024/25 financial year was discussed by the Gore District Council’s new assets and infrastructure committee at its first meeting last Tuesday.

Three Waters asset manager Matthew Bayliss recommended that the $450,000 budgeted for the demolition instead be used in the partial desludging of a pond at the Gore wastewater treatment plant.

In a report tabled at the meeting, he said it was possible that about twice the volume of sludge could be removed for an extra $700,000.

‘‘Given it is currently expected to cost $1.9 million to remove the first 1560 tonnes of sludge . . .[this] is seen as very good value for money.

‘‘Consideration of a further $250,000 increase in budget can then be given as part of the 2023/24 annual plan process.’’

It would be more costeffective to do more desludging now, rather than have the contractor come back to do it again in the future.

Some committee members questioned whether that was worth putting off addressing a health and safety risk.

Cr Neville Phillips pointed out there were also risks if wastewater ponds were not desludged properly.

Mr Bayliss confirmed that failing to desludge wastewater ponds properly could cause odour issues, have environmental consequences and breach legislative requirements.

Councillors Richard McPhail and Robert McKenzie had concerns about the council’s liability regarding the water tower.

‘‘We can’t ignore the fact that we’ve actually publicly sat here and talked about a health and safety issue around one of our items that [is] under our control,’’ Cr McPhail said.

‘‘If something happens we are liable, so we do need to take some action.’’

Mr Bayliss said the tower had been fenced off and soon there would be no need for council staff or contractors to go near it.

Cr Keith Hovell, who is not on the committee, said if that was the case, he wondered if the tower needed to be demolished at all.

Cr Bret Highsted said he would like to see a further report on the tower to better inform their decision on deferring its demolition.

The committee agreed to support increasing the budget of the desludging project to $2.35 million and that the Hilbre Ave water tower demolition be deferred, pending a report from council staff.