Victory School have been plagued by overflowing sewage whenever there is heavy rain, meaning its playground must be closed and then treated before children can play on it again.
Principal Helen Taylor-Young says the problem has been going on for about three years. During last week’s heavy rain the playground was taped off and children were not allowed on it for 24 hours. It was the third time this year it had happened.
“The key message is that the health and safety of the children is paramount,” says Helen. “Whenever it happens they come, it’s treated and disinfected. Council come here quickly but they haven’t solved the problem.”
In heavy rain, the sewerage overflows from the school toilet block and also pollutes neighbouring properties.
“As you can see, it’s our main play space,” Helen says. “When it is those heavy rains the drains just can’t cope with it.”
The situation has got so bad that Nelson MP Nick Smith has called on Nelson City Council chief executive Pat Dougherty to sort the matter out.
“Normally I would go to council directly, but that this has been happening for three or four years means action needs to be taken,” he says.
Nick says the sewerage outflow is unacceptable. “Such regular failures clearly shows the infrastructure is inadequate to cope with even moderate weather events.” Council communication manager Paul Shattock says council has been looking at options for the problem.
The preferred option is to construct a new wastewater line in Vanguard St.
This would allow affected properties to be disconnected from the main in Vanguard St, which is the cause of these overflow issues. Paul says, due to the cost of the work, the project went out to tender which closes this week.
“A contractor will be engaged to address the issue as soon as possible. We agree that the current situation is not acceptable, and have Nelmac on standby to clean-up any overflows if a weather event hits before the work can be completed.”