Why pump sewage uphill?

27/05/2008

James Weir writes in the Dominion that if there’s no rain in the next three weeks we’ll be asked to start conserving power. Hydro storage is down to 54% of average, the worst levels since the 1992 power crisis.

 

It isn’t very difficult to save a bit of power – The Listener (preview available now full story on-line in a month) reckons that turning off at the wall the “vampire” appliances which suck power while on standby will save $75 a year – but an uncharitable corner of my mind is asking why bother?

 

I understand the problem we’re facing and that every little bit helps. But I also wonder what’s the point of individuals doing our little bits when for example, Queenstown Lakes District Council is building a sewerage scheme which will pump Wanaka’s sewage 10 kilometres uphill all day, every day.

 

Let’s set aside the question of what happens when power fails, as it does now and then when it snows; and the fact that the oxidation ponds where the sewage ends up will attract birds which could cause problems for the nearby airport.

 

Let’s just ask why, when we’re supposed to be aiming for sustainability; when gravity is free and less prone to breakdowns than electricity; when ratepayers (of whom I am one) are already struggling with the cost of infrastructure for the rapidly growing town; would you build a new scheme which requires you to pump sewage that distance uphill with the attendant financial and environmental costs?

 

Hat tip: The Hive


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