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30 November 2020

LETTER: Te Mato Vai – Dealing with ‘shoddy’ pipework

Friday 20 November 2020 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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LETTER: Te Mato Vai – Dealing with ‘shoddy’ pipework
CCECC workers carrying out work on the replacement of Rarotonga’s rings mains in 2014. EMMANUEL SAMOGLOU / 20111345

"So tragic and so avoidable ... a water system, especially in a climate where winter frost protection isn’t a problem, is a simple thing. With materials meeting the standards of Canada, the USA, etc., a domestic water distribution system should require little to no significant maintenance for 50 years or more."

Dear Editor,

So tragic and so avoidable (Quiet quest to recoup millions from Chinese firm continues, Saturday November 14 edition).

A water system, especially in a climate where winter frost protection isn’t a problem, is a simple thing. With materials meeting the standards of Canada, the USA, etc., a domestic water distribution system should require little to no significant maintenance for 50 years or more.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe lasts for longer than we’ve been able to establish but the photos I googled of this (Te Mato Vai) project seemed to show some sort of polyethylene pipe. Cheaper, but not what would typically be used in western countries.

If that’s what has been used, and leaks are being found already, then ... ugh ... good luck. I don’t see the problem getting better with time.

I wonder if anyone ever explored the idea of bringing in Western offshore expertise to help with the project? Every time I’ve visited the Cooks from Canada, I’ve said I’d love to live there for a year or two closer to retirement, especially if I could make my presence worthwhile to the community - not just as an ‘entitled tourist’. And as a civil engineer, this is exactly the sort of work that would have been relevant for me.

I’m sure there are many like me in Canada, the UK, Australia, NZ, who’d have happily relocated for a few years to essentially volunteer their design, project management and inspection services, in exchange for a place to live and a grocery allowance. And likely it would be possible to do the same to source experienced municipal pipelayer labour – if it couldn’t be fully supplied locally.

It literally breaks my heart to see how badly this (project) apparently went.

Brock Nanson