Pātai Putuputu I Frequently Asked Questions

Why reticulation?

It offers the most viable option for all properties to comply with the BOPRC’s regulations and the lowest overall long-term cost for the benefiting homeowners, supports mana whenua aspirations as well as the Council’s long term network operations funded by the whole district. 
The solution could be implemented quickly because resource consents would not be required and would enable a measurable improvement in lake quality. Ongoing costs for a reticulated scheme, after initial contribution from property owners, will be the responsibility of Rotorua Lakes Council, towards which all ratepayers in the district will contribute annually through their rates. 

What is the cost of the scheme? 

Based on the successful tender for Stage 2, the new gross cost profile for the scheme appears as below: 

With the conclusion of Stage 2 procurement the gross scheme costs are now projected to be within a range of $26.5 M – $29.0 M – a significant compression from the June 2022 prices (listed above). The remaining uncertainty in the price depends on how much of the provided for contingency will be required to complete the construction. 

How is this being funded? 

The scheme is partially funded by the Ministry for the Environment (MfE), Rotorua Lakes Council (RLC) and Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC). The rest of the cost will be met by contributions from the owner of each property that benefits from the scheme: 

MfE: $6.5 million* (If used by June 2024) 
BOPRC: $750,000 
RLC: $825,000 ($1,500 contribution per property. RLC using balance sheet for upfront borrowings ($14 million) to progress)  
Total: $8,075,000 million  
Council continues to work with the Tarawera community to try and explore additional funding options above what has already been confirmed. 

What will I pay? 

Based on the current capital funding plan (with the current $8.0 M subsidies) the average net capital cost to each property, for the whole scheme (Stage 1 and 2), would be in the range of $38,000 – $42,000 (GST Excl) with the Stage 2 per property average installation costs, based on the tenders, approximately being $25,000 (GST Excl). 

The range of expected average net cost for each property outlined above is on the basis that no further funding assistance and additional to the currently known sources ($8.0 M) is available. 

The financial contribution is broken down into 2 parts: 

Part 1:  

A share of the cost of installing the Tarawera reticulation network. The cost will be divided by 550, so each property will pay 1/550th of the network construction cost. Undeveloped sections will pay Part 1 only. This would cover the section’s contribution to the cost of the network construction and would leave a connection point in the street pipe for any future installation. 

Part 2: An equal share of the total cost for installing LPGP systems onto all properties. Future operational, maintenance and renewal costs will be carried out by all ratepayers in the district connected to the council wastewater networks as part of the wastewater targeted rate (an estimated extra $30- 40 annually). 
Each property benefiting from the scheme will pay both Part 1 and Part 2 contributions. 

Properties with two or more dwellings will be assessed for additional Part 2 payments covering the additional connections required. This depends on the size of each additional dwelling and will be calculated in accordance with the %HUE each additional dwelling represents. The %HUE calculation is explained as follows: 

How and when will I pay? 

Rotorua Lakes Council will not strike an actual capital targeted rate at least until the year 2025/26 when the scheme is expected to be substantially completed. The targeted capital rate (once struck by the Council) can be structured to be repaid either as a lump sum or over a 10-year term with an appropriate capital cost interest rate. Historical data on earlier reticulation schemes indicate that over 50% of connected property owners chose to pay their targeted rate as a lump sum while others opted to repay over an extended term which includes a capital cost interest rate. 

What is the expected timeline? 

Refer here for a full project timeline. 

Self-installation by property owners

Some property owners have expressed the preference for installing on-property systems themselves. The nominated preferred contractor for Stage 2 has indicated that they are amenable to entering into a direct private contract with property owners to install the on-property specified system. Payment arrangements in such case would be under the agreed terms of the private contract and Council will not be involved. 

Property owners who wish to explore that option should be aware that they can do so only with the nominated contractor (in order to maintain the economies of scale achieved through the tenders for the benefit of the whole community). Also, that any such undertaking must be completed within a specified timeframe and to the satisfaction of a Council authorised officers in order for the whole network to be commissioned effectively. Failure to adhere to a specified timeframe will compel the Council to invoke the relevant provisions of the Local Government Act to enforce compliance. 

Further compliance requirements which must be met by property owners who choose to undertake on-property Stage 2 installation themselves. 

Self-installation properties will be allocated the same proportion of the preliminary and general costs of the tendered contract for Stage 2 as all properties so that properties who do not opt for self-installation aren’t financially disadvantaged. 

Ownership and operation of on-property systems

Some property owners have expressed the view that on-property systems should remain under the private ownership and operational responsibility of the property owner. It is important to note that LPGP systems are complex and have a finite design life of around 20-25 years.  

Under such an arrangement, the property owner will be responsible to operate, maintain, repair, renew and/or upgrade the system at their own cost. Under the Council’s current policy where these systems are part of the public total sewerage network, the costs of operation, maintenance, repairs, and renewal are covered by the sewerage rate payable by all connected ratepayers in the district. 

The Medical Officer of Health is of the strong view that such complex systems, required to manage the separation of people from sewerage, should be managed by the Council to ensure the consistency and reliability required by the Ministry of Health on the protection of the community’s health. 

Officers have recommended to Council that such private ownership of the on-property systems is not supported or prudent because the administration, coordination and management of a mixed asset ownership model would be extremely confusing and difficult to effectively administer on a 24/7 basis. The LPGPs (that will pump effluent from each property into the mains lines) must operate in a co-ordinated manner to enable the total pressure system to be effectively calibrated.  

It will be a complex process to make day-to-day decisions on system maintenance and response repairs if a mixed ownership model is adopted. Therefore, officers’ recommendation is that either all properties have a private ownership of the systems or no private ownership, and that all properties are part of the publicly managed sewerage network. 

I maintain my septic tank and it is in good order, can I continue to use it?  

No. Under Plan Change 14 Rotorua Regional Council will no longer issue new consents for septic tank systems or renew consents for existing septic tanks. The Local Government Act requires that properties connect to a reticulated wastewater system if one is provided. 

I have an Aerated Waste Treatment System (AWTS or AWTS+NR) on my property, can I continue to use it?  

No. The Local Government Act requires that properties connect to a reticulated wastewater system if one is provided. 

How many dwellings on a single property can be connected to a single LPGP system?  

A separate LPGP unit will be required for each household / dwelling on each property. An out-building (such as a granny flat or sleep-out) can discharge wastewater into the LPGP of the dwelling it belongs to if it is practicable to do so. If this is not practicable then an additional LPGP will be installed off the additional property. Larger dwellings, or dwellings with more than one household within them may be required to install a larger capacity ‘Duplex’ or ‘Quadplex’ LPGP unit. Gerhard Mostert, Engineers Rep to the Scheme can advise on a case-by-case basis when Stage 2 commences. 

Who maintains the LPGP scheme once it’s installed?  

Rotorua Lakes Council will service and repair the pressure sewerage installation on your property and in the street. The Council is not responsible for the household plumbing that drains to the LPGP storage tank. Repairs to the property owner’s plumbing system (up to the connection to the LPGP storage tank) are at the owner’s expense, as are repairs for any other form of the property’s internal sewerage system. 

What can I flush and what can’t I flush?  

You should use the toilet in the same way as you do for a septic tank or AWTS system. No nappies, sanitary napkins, tampons or wet wipes (including those that are marked as flushable) can be flushed through the LPGP system. Property owners can be held liable for repairs in such cases. 

What do I do if there’s a fault with my LPGP?  

Rotorua Lakes Council can be called 24/7 for assistance. The operator will help you to resolve simple issues over the phone and dispatch a maintenance contractor to your home if required. If the LPGP unit detects a fault, a red warning light will illuminate on the unit’s control box. The user instructions provided with the unit will describe what to do when this happens. 

I use my property infrequently – what should I know?  

If your property is to be left unused for a significant period of time, the only thing you need to do is to flush water through the system to make sure that the pipe from your house to the street is clear of waste. Instructions on how to do this are provided with the unit. 

I let my property (long term rental or short-term holiday let). What should I know?  

You must make sure that clear instructions are left so that non-flushable items are not flushed into the system by your tenants. Signs and stickers will be available from Rotorua Lakes Council if you wish to display a warning adjacent to each sanitary fitting – downloadable poster here.

I am planning to build a new dwelling within my property or subdivide while the scheme is being designed and constructed. What must I do?  

Discharge to land falls within the Bay Of Plenty Regional Council jurisdiction. It may be possible to install an interim wastewater system until the LPGP installation for the property is installed. Gerhard Mostert, Engineers Rep to the Scheme can advise on a case-by-case basis when Stage 2 commences. 

Will the pipeline along Spencer Road be trenched or thrust? 

This will be determined following completion of the detailed design process. Different installation methods may be required depending on the location and design requirements of the section of pipe being installed. Thrusting/ drilling is the preferred method unless ground conditions prevent it. 

Similar schemes are 50% government funded, why is Tarawera not?  

Similar schemes in the district were Crown Deed funded, MfE committed $72.1m in a Deed of Funding arrangement in 2005 for the four priority lakes only – Rotorua, Rotoehu, Rotoiti and Okareka. That Crown Funding included other interventions for water quality improvements on those targeted lakes that covered the BOPRC’s programmes in a rough order attribution of $32m to RLC and $40m to the BOPRC. 

Lake Tarawera was not included in the Crown Deed Funding. However, the Tarawera Sewerage Reticulation Scheme has been granted a separate $6.5 million from MfE’s Freshwater Improvement Fund following an application jointly made by the Council and the community representatives. 

What will I pay for an undeveloped section?  

Undeveloped sections will pay Part 1 only, covering the section’s contribution to the cost of the network construction and leaving a connection point in the road/street pipe for future installation.  
Part 2 would become payable only if/when the section is developed and an LPGP pump is connected to the network.  

What disruptions will construction cause?

A significant component of the Stage 1 construction involves the installation of piping under the roadway.  ‘Directional drilling’ will be used to minimise disruption to the road surface which will in turn minimise disruption to traffic flow. However, directional drilling equipment requires space to operate, and localised traffic management will be in place as necessary.  

RLC and its construction contractors will be communicating with residents to keep them informed of progress and what to expect, each step of the way.