Our records are not accurate, that’s why we won’t take responsibility

Vicki Gundesen dug and dug to find a sewer pipe which didn’t exist.

The Waitara woman bought a section of property in the Taranaki town about two years ago.

Prior to purchase, Gundesen went to the New Plymouth District Council to make sure the section was connected to sewerage.

She wanted to build a toilet block to use when she wasn’t travelling with a gypsy fair and parked her house bus on the land, she said.

The council’s survey photo indicated there was a sewerage connection to the section, but when she queried the disclaimer at the bottom of a photo she was told, “it means it might come into the section at a different place”, Gundesen said.

Initially Gundesen and a friend dug deep along her property line, searching in vain to find the pipe. When they had no luck they called in Vid Pro contractors, who could not find any evidence of a connection despite coming out twice with CCTV cameras to look underground, she said.

“It’s like the invisible pipe,” she said, “If I had known it had not had sewage I wouldn’t have bought it.”

Gundesen felt that by having to pay for the sewerage connection herself, she was really paying for someone else’s mistake, Gundesen said.

“I thought I might get a, ‘we’re really sorry we will sort it out for you’.”

New Plymouth District Council infrastructure manager David Langford said with 1,670km of water, wastewater and stormwater pipes and mains in the district, it was impossible to have completely up to date data to work from.

“A lot of the information we have is historic and from very old records that pre-date modern technology, such as GPS location,” he said.

That may very well be.  But if the council can’t trust its own records, it needs to place a rider on any advice for areas where it knows it may have phantom facilities.  Not doing so, well, makes you responsible for fixing it and covering costs.

The council has offered to pay the $267.38 cost of getting in Vid Pro to search for the pipe, a cost they would have likely incurred through LIM report investigations, Langford said.

“So in the spirit of good will we have offered to reimburse these costs,” he said.

“The cost of connecting to the sewer network remains the responsibility of the property owner as is the case for all property developments.”

What a bunch of slimy toads.   “Oh, it’s not there even though we told you it was”, not our problem.  Bye!


– Taranaki Daily News

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.