Majority of public wants pipes under the river

Under. . . Drilling under the Mataura River so water pipes can be laid is the popular option to get water from one side of the river to the other. PHOTO: FILE

Most Gore district councillors agree under not over is the best option for pipes that will carry water across the Mataura River.

Last year plans to build a bridge across the river to carry the pipes from the Jacobstown wells to the East Gore Water Treatment Station were scuppered when the Environment Court overturned the granting of a 2021 resource consent for the bridge.

The result of a public consultation to find out whether residents preferred the pipes go under the river or over the river were discussed at a full council meeting last week.

A report by Three Waters manager Matt Bayliss outlined the findings of the consultation.

Of the 395 submissions received, 63.3 % or 251 submissions favoured the council focusing on getting the pipeline under the river and 36.5 % or 144 submissions favoured the council combining the water pipe with a walking and cycling bridge.

‘‘This is considered a high level of engagement when compared to other similar projects the council has previously completed,’’ Mr Bayliss wrote.

During the discussion councillors agreed the consultation had provided a clear answer to what residents wanted.

Cr Paul McPhail said given council debt was rising, cost was a key issue for him.

Cr Stewart MacDonell asked Mr Bayliss if he knew what the structure of the riverbed was.

‘‘My big concern is we start this and we end up spending a lot of money putting it across.’’

Mr Bayliss replied it was difficult to know what the rock structure was from one side of the river to the other as it could change part way.

‘‘Ultimately we won’t fully understand that until we’ve actually done the work so there is that risk.’’

Cr Neville Phillips said he preferred the bridge option because more water pipes could be added if necessary.

He would not be making a final decision on which option was best until council staff had completed investigation work.

Cr Phillips was the only councillor to vote against council staff starting planning and coming up with a budget to drill under the river.