Waikato Regional Council’s leadership of a multi-million dollar project to remediate the contaminated Tui Mine on Mount Te Aroha has won a prestigious national award.
|Photo (L-R): Brookfields Lawyers (award
sponsor) partner Linda O'Reilly presents
the award to Ghassan Basheer and Clare
Crickett from Waikato Regional Council.
The award winners were announced at an inaugural gala dinner of the New Zealand Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM) in Wellington last night.
It's the first time in the 25 year history of the SOLGM Local Government Excellence Awards that environmental leadership and sustainability has been recognised.
This year's winner was Waikato Regional Council's Tui Mine remediation project, which was commended by the judges as a meticulously planned and executed approach to a multi-year, multimillion dollar project involving multiple delivery agents, multiple stakeholders, and multiple risk factors.
The collaborative and phased approach to the remediation provided lessons for others facing legacy issues of this nature, the judges said.
Ghassan Basheer, Waikato Regional Council's principal technical advisor, was responsible for ensuring the objectives and stakeholder expectations for the project were met. He received the award with the council's integrated catchment management director Clare Crickett.
"This project required innovative new approaches to project management and technically complex engineering solutions, and it's an honour to have this work by a number of people and organisations recognised," Mr Basheer said.
"It is an exemplar of a site which was subject to extreme environmental contamination and significant environmental, public health and safety risk, before being successfully remediated."
Mr Basheer said this project has delivered, and will continue to deliver, tangible and ongoing benefits to New Zealanders. Physically, the threat to human health and safety has been removed, the site is secure and the release of contaminants has already been dramatically reduced.
Over time it is expected the environment will heal, local streams will once again sustain fish life, and local communities and tourists will be able to fully engage with recreational opportunities on the mountain.
"In particular, recent monitoring undertaken for our council shows there has been an excellent improvement in the ecological health of both the Tunakohoia and Tui streams.
"The project was successful in other ways too. It enabled public sector organisations to engage with local communities in a meaningful and relevant way, and it stimulated an improvement in local infrastructure such as roading and drainage.
"It also proved that a multi-agency approach can work and in many instances, including this one, is absolutely key to developing durable solutions which have the support of all stakeholders," Mr Basheer said.
Waikato Regional Council has been involved in the management of the Tui Mine remediation works since June 2007, when the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) announced funding for the project.
The $21.7 million project has involved MfE, Waikato Regional Council, Matamata-Piako District Council, local iwi and the Department of Conservation.
While the major risks to community health and safety and environmental damage posed by the mine site have been removed and the Tui Mine Remediation project completed, work is continuing on the maunga.
In particular, a catchment and planting plan, with strong iwi ownership, is underway to accelerate the healing of the maunga and ensure the long term health and sustainability of the streams for future generations. The regional council will continue to lend support as part of our 'business-as-usual' activities.