Bright ideas benefit Bay of Plenty
Monday, 11 April 2011 8:30 a.m.
Bright ideas dreamed up by Bay of Plenty Regional Council staff will have wide-ranging benefits throughout the Bay of Plenty.
Under a newly established $30,000 Innovation Fund, ideas being funded this year include land-based aquaculture using dairy farm effluent, cut flowers as an alternative income generator for Rotorua dairy farmers, a wastewater treatment system for septic tanks and smart phone applications which use bus timetable data.
The Regional Council's Bright Ideas Innovation Fund was established in August last year to encourage staff to think innovatively and to improve the value and outcomes of the Regional Council's work. The Fund received 12 applications, and six projects have been selected for funding by a selection panel which included management and staff.
Rivers Operations Manager Bruce Crabbe's idea, which has received $7,500, is to use dairy effluent ponds to initiate a food chain to support production of fish species for commercial production or to replenish native fish stocks. The process will ensure nutrient-free water is discharged to coastal areas, provide an alternative use for low lying marginal land and use wetlands and drainage canals for fish production.
Environmental Scientist Jonathan Freeman's $7,500 idea is to identify suitable alternative horticultural land uses in Rotorua such as growing cut flowers to encourage reduction of high nitrate use and maintain economic viability for dairy farmers. Dairy effluent could be used to generate heat and provide fertiliser.
Project Implementation Officer Sam Weiss' $7000 idea is a design for a retro fitted wastewater treatment system which would meet permitted water quality requirements in the Rotorua area as a cheaper option than an advanced reticulated system. The system would be trialled for eight months.
Sustainable Farming Advisor John Paterson's $5000 idea is for an automated co-ordination system to more efficiently use the Regional Council's vehicles. Staff would be able to check where and when other staff are travelling between the Council's offices to save duplication.
Wiki Mooney's $2000 idea is for motivational speaker Marcus Akuhata Brown to speak to staff to encourage them to push beyond their boundaries and achieve their goals.
Transport Operations Officer Mike Furniss and Senior Transport Planner Emlyn Hatch's $1000 idea is to engage Bay of Plenty Polytechtechnology students to develop smart phone applications or text messaging for bus network information.
Corporate Services Group Manager Brian Trott said business cases and feasibility studies would be done and a project management monitoring and review system was in place to track each project's performance. Another round of applications from staff to the Bright Ideas Innovation Fund begins later this year.