Newsletter 19

RUAPEHU MOUNTAIN CLUBS ASSOCIATION (INC.)
Address: 6 Harvest Court,
PARAPARAUMU
Secretary Treasurer: John Rockell
Phone 04 902 4415
Fax 04 902 4413
E-mail: rockell@paradise.net.nz
1 February 2000

To Member Clubs Newsletter 19 Evacuation Schemes and Smoke Detectors At the Annual General Meeting held at Iwikau on 9 October, 1999 two topics were of particular concern for clubs. The sewerage scheme, predictably was one. The other deals with the requirements for evacuation schemes which are required for all lodges. This topic was new to most delegates and so produced less discussion from the floor. Nevertheless, it looks to be a subject which will be of great concern. Mr Kevin Trerise, the Assistant Fire Region Manager (Fire Safety) of Fire Service’s Western Region was introduced to members. He told club members that their lodges must have evacuation schemes approved by Fire Service and that a requirement for that approval was that sleeping areas and exit ways must be protected by smoke detectors connected to an automatic fire alarm. He said that a number of clubs still had no approved emergency evacuation scheme and some others still had some further requirements to satisfy before their evacuation procedures or schemes could be approved. All lodges providing accommodation for more than 5 people are required to have an approved scheme and Fire Service would not now approve any scheme unless, in all sleeping areas and exits, the lodge had smoke detectors complying with NZS 4512 standard interconnected to an automatic fire alarm system. The type of smoke detector required would normally be hard wired to the power main supply or fire alarm power supply with battery back up. The interconnection with the alarm system would ensure that if any smoke was detected by any detector all alarms in the lodge would sound. Hard wired smoke detectors are more costly. Figures of the order of $100 were mentioned but it is likely that this cost could be reduced considerably if the detectors were obtained in bulk. Smoke detectors need to be wired to an automatic fire alarm. In some lodges wiring costs could be reduced by simply replacing existing heat detectors in a sleeping area with smoke detectors It was agreed that RMCA should obtain more detail with a view to reducing the cost by bulk purchase and possibly bulk costing for wiring lodges. Since the above was written discussions have been held with Fire Service and Ruapehu District Council staff. RMCA does not know what sorts of fire alarm systems, smoke detectors are used by clubs’ lodges. Probably, Link Fire Services Ltd. Which carries out monthly inspections of 40 lodges on and around the mountain has the best knowledge at present. What is known is that some lodges only have manual fire alarm systems and these will probably have to be replaced with automatic systems. Some lodges have automatic fire alarm systems which include wired in heat detectors and these may be easily replaceable with smoke detectors in sleeping areas and exit ways. But some may not be so easily replaceable. Clearly, it will take a professional fire protection company to assess what changes are needed for each lodge. When this has been done there will be a better idea of how many smoke detectors, automatic fire alarm panels (or systems) and other equipment will be needed and this should make cheaper bulk purchase possible. A letter has been sent to all member clubs of RMCA asking for their agreement for representatives of fire protection companies to check out their lodges and assess what is needed. At present, we do not know what the costs may be but do know they will be substantial for many lodges. The assessment will only be the beginning of what is likely to be a long process. I see no likelihood of the whole process of upgrading being completed by 30 June, as Fire Service would like, but it is important that a start is made so if you have put the letter aside, get it out and let us have a reply. President’s Report (This report was given by the President, Bill Chrystall at the Annual General Meeting on 9 October 1999) The year to 31 May 1999 that the RMCA accounts cover could probably be best described as a near disaster for RAL and clubs. Skiable snow came late with both Whakapapa and Turoa opening around August 17. Whakapapa closed again about 5 weeks later although Turoa went for a little longer. It is clear that the key to having a so-called normal season is that there must be skiable snow by the beginning of July. The four term school year has not been advantageous for skiing! RMCA has finished the year with a reasonable surplus but this, and more, is likely to be needed for future costs associated with the sewerage scheme. This scheme id temporarily in abeyance to allow further investigation of a proposed treatment area adjacent to the Chateau. If this area is shown to be satisfactory the total cost is likely to be reduced by around $1 million. Brian Anderson and Alan Thompson have continued to represent RMCA in discussions with DoC and, at times, Ruapehu District Council over the entire sewerage scheme planning process and I thank them for this. The new eruption detection system is due to be commissioned in September and at that stage the old one will be phased out. Extension to Whakapapa village may not now take place until 2000-2001. RMCA is fortunate to have John Rockell as Secretary Treasurer to handle the secretarial and accounting functions for without him the organisation would be a lot more difficult to administer. I would also like to thank all RMCA Council Members who give their time to represent you. Our relationship with DoC remains cordial and I have found the staff good to deal with. Looking ahead, the major issue that faces RMCA is the question of sewerage and you can be assured that your interests will be represented to the best of our ability. Bill Chrystall President 1 October 1999.
Conservation Award In a poignant ceremony held in December a Conservation Award was made to Ross Campbell by DoC Regional Conservator Paul Green. Paul spoke of Ross’s long association with Ruapehu through his presidency of both Ruapehu Ski Club and the Ruapehu Mountain Clubs Association. He said Ross made an extremely valuable contribution to the ongoing planning for a major sewerage scheme designed to overcome the problem of sewage disposal from 45 club lodges, a major skilled and Whakapapa village on Ruapehu. He said that even in his final days before succumbing to cancer he was still heavily involved in planning aspects of the scheme. His wife Kenwyn accepted the award on Ross’s behalf. Annual General Meeting 1999. The AGM was held on 9 October, 1999 at the Happy Valley Bistro, Iwikau with the chairman, Bill Chrystall in the chair. A little over 70 club members from 29 clubs signed the register but there were probably rather more there judging from the seating which was all occupied. Bill Chrystall explained his presence which had been caused by the death of Ross Campbell after a short illness. (See Newsletter 18 and a report on the conservation award later in this newsletter.) The Secretary Treasurer showed that RMCA had improved its financial position slightly during the year, by $598.38 to be exact from an income of $29,539.88 and expenditure of $28,941.50. Although operating expenses were expected to be a little higher for the 1999-2000 year than for the year past it was not expected that there would be substantial legal costs as there had been in 1999 so the meeting agreed to reduce the annual subscription for 1999-2000 to $144.00 including GST per club for clubs without buildings in the National Park and $144.00 per building for clubs with buildings in the National Park. (John Rockell got the subscription invoices out soon after the AGM and is pleased to say that at the time of writing only 3 clubs have still to pay. Thank you to all those clubs which responded so quickly.) The President reported that DoC had recognised the bad winter seasons in recent years and proposed that hut site rentals remain unchanged for 3 years from 1 July 1999. RMCA had investigated and recommended clubs to accept DoC’s proposal. Sewerage Scheme This was the major topic of the meeting and produced some very strong views so is dealt with in some detail here. Alan Thompson and Brian Anderson, are the RMCA representatives on the working group managing the project. Alan noted that although the scheme was officially in abeyance because Ruapehu District Council could not raise finance for it and because of the recent eruptions, in fact the scheme was very far from dead. The delay had given time to review the scheme and address serious concerns about the scheme costs. DoC were had reconsidered its earlier view and their proposal now was for treatment within an enlarged Whakapapa plant with effluent discharge below ground at the Golf course. The saving, as compared with the earlier treatment site near the old National Park rubbish tip would be of the order of $1 million. DoC were also prepared to guarantee to purchase the service which should make it much easier to borrow the funds needed to build the scheme.
Alan traversed the 7 year history of the scheme to date and reminded members that the reasons which then persuaded all of the clubs to agree that sewage should be reticulated and taken off the mountain still existed. Current view is that the scheme will cost approximately $3.75 million equating to a capital cost for each club of $40,000. However it is unlikely that clubs would be given the option to pay up front and the most likely scenario is for the capital and operating costs to be recovered through annual charges of about $4,500. Still to be decided was the ownership of the scheme. Current intention is for construction to take place in summer 2000-2001 or possibly the following year. Questioning and discussion took place, much of it from representatives of Alpine Sports Club and Auckland Tramping Club. Both clubs have lodged an objection to the scheme and assertions included: Measurement of their own lodge flows suggest Clubs only use one fifth of the 150 litre of sewage estimated by the designers as the daily use per lodge occupier. By contrast RAL usage has been assessed at only 20 litres per person per day. The answer given was that the estimate is based on peak flows from maximum allowable lodge occupation, not current or average. The figures used are likely to favour clubs rather than other major users, such as RAL which has been assessed as having 10,000 people per day, a figure seldom if ever likely to be achieved. There was strong objection to the $500,000 which apparently was being sought by Ruapehu District Council for engineering design for the earlier proposal. The meeting was informed that RDC project operating costs to 17/12/98 were $520,911+GST. There were different views on how much of this cost should be a cost to the scheme users. There was an inference that if actual and lesser flows, rather than peak flows, were used pipe sizes could be smaller. However, several members noted that the big cost in reticulation would be that of trenching for pipes and it would be prudent to use pipes to accommodate peak flow. It was also considered that the 125mm pipe proposed was the smallest practical size if blockage is to be minimised It was suggested that the likelihood of cost over-runs on trenching below Iwikau was so high that it would be better to redevelop lodge septic tanks and to use on site package systems. The President and RMCA project representatives responded that the proposed system had undergone several peer reviews by consultants who were expert in sewerage disposal and who had all come down in favour of reticulation of sewage and piping it to an off mountain treatment plant. Again, to revert to a septic tank system would require the issue of water rights which were certain to be opposed by DoC. Most members present appeared to agree with Council Member Peter Garrett who said that the scheme was being designed for peak flows, it had been reviewed by 3 competent firms; Brian Anderson and Alan Thompson had both worked, and continued to work, tirelessly for RMCA and the mountain community and members should continue to support the scheme. See the next page for further news of the sewerage scheme!
Breaking News on the Sewerage Scheme Two test bores have been drilled at the Chateau golf course to ascertain the suitability of that site for a soakage field for effluent from sewage from the proposed upgraded Whakapapa sewage treatment plant. The test bores failed to locate strata of volcanic pumice, ash or reasonably porous lahar material. Except for the top metre the ground down to 24 or 25 metres appears to be lahar material consisting of firm gravel interspersed with small to large boulders in which the soakage rate is not good. To cope with maximum expected flows a large number of expensive bores would be required, possibly as many as 36. Becca Carter Hollings and Ferner have estimated the cost of installing an initial bore field of 36 bores, each 24m deep at $36,000. This would not be the end. The low soakage capacity of each bore would increase the likelihood of blockage. Blocked bores would probably need to be replaced to keep the system operating satisfactorily over time. Department of Conservation and the Working Group are now faced with a significant setback to the proposed sewerage scheme and will now have to consider what other options are available. Election of Executive Council RMCA’s Executive Council is elected every two years and so the next election will take place this year for a President and 6 Councillors. A President can hold office for only two terms consecutively and had it not been for the untimely death of President Ross Campbell he would have stepped down this year. As it was Councillor Bill Chrystall was chosen by Council to succeed Ross which he has done ably from May, 1999. This year Member clubs nominations will be invited for the positions of President and six Councillors. There will be a postal ballot and successful candidates will take office after the next Annual General Meeting. Remember that RMCA exists for the benefit of all member clubs. Give some thought about who you want to represent the interests of all clubs. Acting Secretary Treasurer Your Secretary Treasurer, John Rockell will be away on holiday from30 April to 2 July. During that time RMCA Councillor John Todd will take over John’s duties. John Todd can be contacted at 130 C Cook Street, Palmerston North; or phone 06 356 1561 (Home), or 06 350 3917 (Work), and Fax 06 357 0224 (Work) He may also be contacted by e-mail at hbassett@hort.cri.nz