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Christchurch Drainage

Its funny that in 2002 there is a bit of a furore over where the sewage goes in Christchurch. Funny, because the drains in Christchurch appear to have been a bone of contention since the first settlement in 1850.

In March 1871 JSM JACOBSEN proposed a scheme (in the Lyttelton Times) that would rid the city of the odiferous Ferry Road drain, through a canal system. The councillors of the time debated this scheme, and requested a Christchurch engineer, Mr BRAY submit a plan. This plan was shown by Jacobsen (again in the Lyttelton Times) to be incorrect "... in fact, the sewer must sooner or later be choked..." A later letter from Jacobsen to the editor of the Times note that "Councillors Anderson, Pratt and Hart must have misconstrued my letter... I take the liberty of writing you, seeing that you were one of the Councillors who understood my plan, and also that you did not approve of a sum of at least 34,000 of public money should be thrown away in a useless cause. Unfortunately, this has been the case frequently in the matter of general engineering in New Zealand."

The debate continued, with one councillor stating "he did not think that Mr Bray's report was either complete or correct... they had seen his figures challenged in the public prints by a gentleman who came from one of the greatest, if not the greatest engineering country in the world, namely, Holland, which was below the sea level. Mr Jacobsen was in a position to produce the highest testimonials as to his efficiency, and he (Councillor Hobbs) did not think that the Council would be justified in thus hurriedly adopting Mr Bray's report, more especially when his calculations were challenged in the public prints of the city."

Councillor Jones said that if they paid any attention to the challenge of Mr Jacobsen, some other engineer would challenge Mr Jacobsen, and so the thing would go on... Councillor Hart said that Mr Bray, if he was not the best engineer in the world, was the best to be found in Canterbury. The council had employed him as consulting engineer, and as such they were bound to respect his calculation. Mr Jacobsen was a newcomer to the place, and besides he had no responsibility.

The report of Mr Bray was adopted.

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