Years of research, investment and community consultation culminated in the Wairoa District Council lodging its wastewater discharge consent application with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council last Thursday.
The application seeks to replace the existing consent for the discharge to the river with a series of milestones over the next 30 years that transition to an irrigation system.
The ultimate goal is to stop discharging to the river but this will take a lot of time and investment.
The multi-million-dollar waste water overhaul takes a holistic view including renewals of the wastewater reticulation system to reduce flow rates and pump station overflows, adding filtration and disinfection after the oxidation ponds, building storage ponds and irrigation schemes, enabling the river discharge outfall to be relocated to match riverbed migrations, and on-going reviews and development of plans to optimise future discharge regimes and related works. During the transition stages irrigation and storage facilities will allow summertime discharges to the river to reduce and then cease except during summer storms, then gradually stop river discharges during more of each year and discharge larger volumes to the river only when it is flowing faster.
The project is one of the most significant infrastructure projects Wairoa has seen in 30 years.
Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said it had taken a long time to reach the point where there is a long-term and sustainable solution that benefits the whole community across the four well-beings of social, cultural, economic and environmental.
“This is a new era and the Council is embracing compliance while understanding it is a journey that takes in a big picture, not simply putting a band-aid on the problem.”
“The Wairoa and regional council are well aware of the wastewater issues our community faces.
Mr Little praised the work of the Council-initiated Wairoa Wastewater Stakeholder Group which had its work recognised as a finalist in both the 2018 Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) Community Engagement EXCELLENCE Awards and the Society of Local Government Managers (SOLGM) Community Engagement Awards.
The new consent will include the ongoing involvement of the stakeholder group to help Council review progress towards its goals and to help make decision on actions to be taken in 5-10 year rolling programmes.
“This process is a community partnership and the wastewater group brought forward good, practicable options to Council.”
“There views have been endorsed by public consultation feedback.”
Wairoa District Council chief executive Steven May said the group is a great illustration of how the Wairoa community works with its council on challenging issues to future proof the district for our children's children.
“We are fortunate to have a passionate group of local people on board with the Council. We all want the same thing-healthy waterways for our district both now and into the future.”
“One of the key aspects of the holistic approach is that Council will be working with iwi, the community and the regional council to improve the river by supporting planting programmes and erosion control measures across the entire rural catchment.”
5 December 2018
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