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Loburn Lea . . . Ongoing work on the wastewater system near Rangiora's Ashley Bridge this week. Council have finalised costs for the final stage of the Loburn Lea wastewater system. PHOTO: ADAM BURNS

By ADAM BURNS, LOCAL DEMOCRACY REPORTER

Upgrades at the Loburn Lea wastewater system have blown out by more than a half-a-million dollars from what was first estimated, another result of supply chain and labour shortage issues.

But Waimakariri District Council staff say there was sufficient residual budgets from within its shovel ready programme to cover most of the increased costs on the project.

The multi million upgrades, which remain in construction, are part of the council’s $11 million Government-funded three waters stimulus programme.

The budget blowout on the Loburn project forced a final reshuffle of programme costs, which were reviewed and approved at last week’s council meeting, with savings identified in other areas.

Council’s inability to recruit for a drainage and waterways manager position meant it was able to reallocate costs across the programme.

The labour market was responding to “increased economic activity, inflation and supply chain issues” which were being reflected in increased tender prices across a range of projects, council report says.

Part of the Three Water reforms’ roll out, the stimulus programme for the Waimakariri comprised of 10 construction projects and funded by an $8 million government grant, $2 million from council development contributions and $1 million from scheme contributions.

The funding package was said to provide “immediate post-Covid-19 stimulus to local authorities to maintain and improve three waters infrastructure”.

The Loburn Lea upgrades will include improved sewer infrastructure on Cones Road, Dixons Road, Adian Way and Millton Ave, a new pumping station and pipework extending across the Ashley Bridge.

Stimulus and Shovel Ready delivery manager Rob Kerr says there had been a “number of challenges” on the project.

“It’s a very long pipeline and the estimates certainly weren’t up to where we would hope in terms of levels of accuracy,” he says.

“Part of the (latest) increases has been caused by increased scope but I think it also reflects the market conditions that we’re seeing at the moment.

“To receive only one tender for a relatively normal pipeline job like this is unusual.”

The Loburn Lea wastewater project had been estimated to generate $1.47 million worth of growth across a 10 year period.