Monday, December 6, 2010

Results of Muri-EU Risk Assessment Survey

Results of the Muri-EU Risk Assessment Survey were presented at a meeting of the community group Muri Environment Care and representatives of the Aid Management Division. Some of the results of the survey are:

  • of the 242 properties surveyed, 64% had septic systems that predated 2000 and consisted of a single chamber septic tank leading to a soak pit
  • Only 28% of property owners knew when their tank was last pumped out
  • Most land application systems (the system that disperses treated effluent back into the ground) were soak pits and only a small number were trenches
  • Of tourist accommodation properties surveyed, only 17% use sub-surface irrigation as a land application system
  • 80% of households have insufficient land available for upgrading their soak pits to a trench or sub-surface irrigation system.
  • 66% of people surveyed have the perception that their sanitation system is working satisfactorily.
  • Only ¼ of the community knew that soak pits are no longer permitted.
  • 48% showed a willingness to share a septic system with their neighbor to reduce the cost of an upgrade
  • 60% showed a willingness to pay for sanitation services
  • The number of pigs in the Muri area is equivalent to having another 801 people in the village
Steps that can be taken next include, fixing septic systems in the Lagoon Protection Zone (all properties on the beachfront and most properties alongside the main road), education and awareness, enforcement of current standards and detailed analysis of a sewage system design.

Solid Waste Audit

To begin implementation of recommendations from the Panel Discussion, a Waste Audit planning meeting was organized by TIS. The meeting between TIS, MOIP and NES was to examine methods and results of the last waste audit and equipment needed as recommended by the NZ Solid Waste Protocol. John Wichman who was at the meeting venue joined in the discussion. John explained that there is already a proposal at MOIP to implement a waste audit and the proposal just needs to be submitted. He offered TIS an opportunity to comment on the proposal. The proposal is to engage a consultant to assist MOIP to:

  • Identify adequate operation and maintenance funding via cost recovery through taxes and fees from management services.
  • Review the refuse and recycling collection system
  • Privatize certain parts of the Rarotonga Waste Management Facility (landfill and recycling station).
  • Create and implement a plan to move to the next stage of completing Solid Waste integration - waste reduction and separation.
  • Increase capacity to coordinate a joint agency approach to Solid Waste Management.

Bring Your Own Cup Panel Discussion: Challenges of Dealing with our Rubbish

Over 50 members and friends attended our Panel Discussion on November 3rd. The audience learnt that despite kerbside collection of recycling being unsuccessful, there are a number of other places where recyclables can be delivered. “I was so pleased to see so many people supportive of recycling,” says Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Planning Otheniel Tangianau after the discussion. “It encourages me to really focus on this now,” he says.

Key points learnt at the discussion were:

  • the departure tax no longer contributes to the Environment Protection Fund $14 million/year is collected by government in import levies on cars, alcohol, tobacco, vegetables, pork and fuel.
  • Less than a million is allocated to kerbside collection, recycling and landfill management
  • Each year, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Planning have not succeeded in convincing the Budget Committee to increase their budget allocation to ensure recycling occurs
  • A waste audit is needed to determine volumes of each type of recyclable (plastic, glass, aluminium, steel etc). This data can then be used to advertise the tender for the next kerbside collection contract
Recommendations that came out of the discussion include:

  • making more noise about the issue to grab and maintain government’s attention including recycling as a priority in next year’s budget (NES to send draft policy statement for 2011/2012 budget to TIS for comment)
  • changing policy to ensure commercial properties pay for the collection of their rubbish
  • requesting government to reinstate the Environment Protection Fund
  • doing a waste audit and then using the data to advertise the tender for the next kerbside collection contract (tender sooner than later)
  • re-exporting really hazardous stuff
  • allocating import levies to infrastructure development
The Panel included Vaitoti Tupa (Director, National Environment Service), Tamarii Tutangata (2010 Budget Committee), Otheniel Tangianau (Secretary, Ministry of Infrastructure and Planning) and John Wichman (Recycle Cook Islands).

NZAID-Funded Waste Management Initiative

NZAID has agreed to provide $3million to kick-start a Waste Management Initiative project.
The money is to address urgent waste management issues and fund a coordinator to drive the project.
Government agencies and representatives of the private sector were asked to meet on 21 October to decide on next steps.
“We need plumbers and drain-layers to inspect septic installations and we need that now,” says meeting participant Rob Coote.
“We need to set up a waste and sanitation unit now,” he stressed.
The meeting concluded that a coordinator is needed to assist the Ministry of Infrastructure and Planning set up a sanitation unit and address other areas that need urgent attention.
The meeting established a sub-committee to refine details of the recruitment process for the coordinator.
Some have said that the coordinator is being asked to do a whole lot and a project team is needed rather than one person.
The sub-committee met the next day and agreed on the skills needed and the recruitment process.