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Wetlands could remove viruses from wastewater
13 Aug 2015
A wetlands complex could be the simplest, most natural way to remove human viruses and bacteria from Gisborne’s treated wastewater. Medical Officer of Health Dr Bruce Duncan, who chairs the Wastewater Technical Advisory Group (WTAG), says using plants and sunlight in the design of a wetland makes sense. He and fellow WTAG member molecular biologist John Mackay are looking at how simple things like plants, sunlight, bark chips and some metals could help naturally destroy viruses and bacteria in the environment. “We know sunlight, our natural UV, kills viruses. Rather than blasting treated wastewater with an electrically powered UV disinfection system, we could use sunlight as it flows within wetlands,” Dr Duncan says. Their work is part of Gisborne District Council’s joint-funded trials to see if a wetlands complex is a realistic alternative to ultraviolet disinfection. This was to be added to the city’s wastewater treatment by the end of 2014 but WTAG recommended a wetland as the best alternative. By 2020, WTAG and Gisborne District Council hope to see the city’s treated wastewater – also called effluent – flow to land instead of sea. Wastewater treatment is being upgraded to ensure cleaner water in the bay. Dr Duncan says domestic sewage contains a variety of bugs, including bacteria and viruses. These can be divided into the normal, beneficial organisms in everyone’s gut, and those causing disease. “We want to protect human health and wellbeing by removing these bacteria and viruses.” Current wastewater treatment has some impact on viruses but some go through the biological trickling filter (BTF) unchanged and will survive in the environment. “A lot of viruses, including norovirus, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, will die if water remains in a wetland for three days. But other viruses like adenovirus – a cause of colds, rashes and diarrhoea – can survive for up to 60 days. Adenovirus won’t be wiped out by the BTF. When we remove adenovirus from domestic wastewater, we can be confident we have got rid of many other viruses.” Mr Mackay’s tests show the BTF is taking out 90 percent of bacteria and viruses. “But the remaining 10 percent is still a lot, hence the need for a final clean-up step through wetlands. Being smaller and more robust, viruses are typically not removed by the BTF as efficiently as bacteria. We want to know how well the wetlands trial plant deals with viruses." Read more >>
New roading contract announced
6 Aug 2015
A new contract for managing the Gisborne roading network will foster continued improvement and innovative approaches, and devote additional resources to communities such as Ruatoria. Read more >>
More pine tree felling on Titirangi
6 Aug 2015
Tree felling on the port side of Titirangi and an area at the summit will start this weekend with some road closures in place. Resource consent has been approved to fell some of the remaining Pine on other parts of Titirangi Reserve. Read more >>
Parking's free before morning tea
3 Aug 2015
Parking your car in the city centre is free before 10.30am Monday - Friday for the month of August.  Councillors voted at the Future Tairawhiti meeting on 16 July to trial a free parking initiative to see if it would attract more shoppers into town. “The trial is intended to help attract customers to the CBD in the quieter month of August. The trial runs alongside the Heart of Gisborne 'win a car' competition in the same month,” says enforcement manager Jim Single. A survey will be completed to assess any increase of shoppers. “We are in the process of surveying parking numbers right now to use as a base line for comparison next month. “The trial isn't intended to be a solution but will help inform a full parking policy that will be developed next year.” “This will involve a full analysis of parking fees, numbers of required parks and time restricted parking.” All other time limits and rules apply during the free parking period from 8.30am – 10.30am Monday to Friday. Read more >>
Our bid for rural broadband
20 Jul 2015
We submitted an initial registration of interest for the Government’s next round of broadband and mobile black spot funding last Thursday. The submission includes requests for broadband to be extended in several areas in the district as well as coverage for key tourism sites across the region where there is no 3G mobile coverage from any provider. “Gisborne has already had investment in the government’s first roll out of Ultra-Fast fibre connection in the city and Rural Broadband to townships and communities,” says strategic policy manager David Wilson, “But we know there are gaps in connectivity.” Maps provided by broadband and mobile providers such as Chorus and Vodafone identified areas where there was coverage. “They have told us they are indicative only and accuracy is not 100%.” During the first rural roll out (RBI1) Chorus has laid fibre connecting many schools and many of the remaining areas and schools are serviced by wireless networks. “There appears to be reasonable coverage in many rural areas of Gisborne,” says Mr Wilson. “But there are a small number of communities in valleys and pockets who do not have broadband access so we’ve prioritised those for extensions. “We’re also asking for existing wireless networks to be strengthened to get better speed and capacity.” The government has allocated an additional $100m for Rural Broadband extension (RBI2) funding and $210m for Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB2) extension. “Makaraka was not included in the UFB1 allocation for Gisborne so we are asking for this to be included this time around. “There’s a strong business case for Makaraka in terms of population density and projected growth, current internet connectivity levels and mix of business and residential areas.” As part of the extensions the government wants to know areas where there is no mobile phone coverage from any provider and where there may be road safety and tourism issues from lack of coverage. “We have identified the blackspot areas with information from phone providers. “Based on the criteria we’ve prioritised site such as Motu Trails, Rere Falls and Rockslide, Matawai and Waioeka, along state highway 35 and out to the East Cape Lighthouse.” Central government’s extension of funding for the 3 programmes is aimed at achieving world leading internet speeds provided to more of our population. Applications from all over New Zealand will be assessed to identify projects and call for proposals from companies who can provide the broadband infrastructure. “There’s also another stage that we have to complete called a Digital Enablement Plan, due in September. “We’ll draw on the strategy that was created for the Gigatown competition outlining the key actions we can take to improve digital literacy and maximise the business, education, health, social and cultural benefits of broadband.” There will be opportunities for community to be engaged in discussions over the next three months about future broadband and mobile connectivity in our District. Watch our website and Facebook page for details and if you're keen to be involved please email to connect@gdc.govt.nz with your name. Read more >>

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