Wellington Scoop

Andy Foster wants more money in budget to fix failed wastewater pipe in CBD

Report from RNZ
Wellington Mayor Andy Foster has suggested the city council will bring forward repairs for the section of the wastewater network which failed yesterday in the CBD – it was due to be replaced in the next two or three years.

“In terms of how long it takes to fix things, it will take time. This particular pipe, I think you will see brought forward, it was already in the budget, so intended to be replaced.

“But we need to put more money to do things quicker, to the best extent that resources allow that to be done.”

Wellington Water chief executive Colin Crampton said while a temporary fix has been completed, the permanent job is a more complicated.

“The split that’s occurred in the cast iron main, requires a length of road about 10 metres to be dug up.

“As they’ve started to open up, there’s gas, telecom, our own water, there’s a lot of pipes in that area, and there’s a whole concrete chamber for some reason. We’ve got to manage our way through that, and we can’t do that quickly.”

“The issue is around the asset. They were put in in the early 1900s and those are coming to the end of their lives and also the asbestos, the main parts we put in in the 50s are coming to the end of their lives,” he said. Wellington Water will advise the city council on replacing the old pipes.

The broken pipeline has led to disruption for many businesses and people.

“Well the smell’s obviously been impacting business, it’s turning people away,” said Caffeinated Dragon Games owner and manager Rhys Kaan. “We’ve noticed a little bit less foot traffic. When the wind changes we can certainly tell the difference.”

Ian Douglas owns The Village Goldsmith over the road from the burst pipe. He said he had lost customers because of the smell.

“From a retail perspective it’s a disaster when you have … 20 metres outside your front door, essentially an open toilet. It doesn’t do wonders for business whatsoever.”

One worker said it smelt like sewage had been dumped in his office. “I’m from a [developing] country so it smelt like – the norm.” Another said it was “really bad”, pervaded her shop and she could not get rid of it. “Employees were finding it a little bit [nauseating]. So we shut the door and then we were really hot.”

closed street
RNZ photo

Several CBD roads were closed today as crews worked to repair the broken pipe.

CBD residents and businesses spent the day conserving water, and only flushing when absolutely necessary.


  1. James S, 27. January 2021, 15:49

    What project or activity does the Mayor propose to cancel to make room for this spending?

  2. Michael Gibson, 27. January 2021, 16:41

    Does anyone know anything about the Wellington Water Committee and how or if it reports to Wellington City Council? Replies to my O.I. requests on the subject are most unhelpful.

  3. TrevorH, 27. January 2021, 18:50

    How about cancelling the Eastern Bays Cycleway in Miramar? Nobody wants it and it’s bound to cost at least twice the estimate. There is strong opposition to needlessly aggravating the already severe congestion. The WCC’s reputation is mud out East.

  4. Hel, 27. January 2021, 20:04

    Hardly confidence inspiring when the CEO of Wellington Water seems surprised that there are other services nearby; when does this guy get the blow torch applied? If these pipes were really in the plan to be replaced in two years, one might have expected they would know a bit more about them than they do.

  5. Kara, 28. January 2021, 12:41

    Far better to cancel the convention center. That will free up loads of funds.

  6. Toni, 28. January 2021, 13:21

    It is all very well blaming Wellington Water, but they were not instrumental in the preceding years of financial neglect before they took over in 2014. Wellington Water were handed a severely underfunded system which has became seriously compromised by their repeated requests to council for money to upgrade aging pipes etc being ignored in favour of funding for more glamorous projects. It is time the government took control away from the council as they have failed miserably in this basic area of their responsibility to ratepayers and, in doing so, have placed a financial burden on the city which will take years to recover from.