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Illegal stormwater connections targeted

Months of inspections and data collection is being actioned with illegal stormwater connection repairs underway.

The Wairoa District Council has identified around 500 residential connections in the Wairoa township which are illegally connected to the sewer network.

The historical issue is costing Council thousands of dollars to process stormwater which does not need to be treated, and it is also and prematurely wearing out the sewer infrastructure by running at over-capacity

Currently, during rain events, the wastewater system can take in excess of ten times the amount of normal flow.

Council’s Group manager community assets and services Stephen Heath said stormwater infiltration is a massive nationwide problem.

“As a Council, we are proactively doing what we can to solve the issue in line with our commitment to eliminating unconsented discharges meeting Council’s long term aim of having no untreated wastewater overflow from pump stations into the river by 2020.

“We are fortunate our township is agile enough to make significant changes to achieve a world-class wastewater system.”

Property owners whose homes have been identified as having non- compliant stormwater connections should have received a letter from the Council.

Council contractors will now visit the identified properties and professionally remove any illegal connections.

There will be no direct cost to property owners for this work.

Properties will be revisited in the future to check that the downpipe/s have not been reconnected.

If it is found that the downpipe/s have been reconnected, a fine may be imposed under Section 5.11 of the Wairoa District Council Trade Waste and Wastewater Bylaw Section 5.5.3

The cost of any further disconnection work will be charged to the property owner.

On private properties the council will not be putting in storm water pipework as an alternative to these illegal connections.

The three-staged approach has started with the removal of non-compliant downpipes, stage two will be the removal of underground sumps and stage three the repair and renewal of non-compliant gulley traps.

Mr Heath acknowledged that some of the historical plumbing work, where roof downpipes are plumbed directly into the sewerage system, is so old so the house may have been sold on a couple of times, and the current owners were not even aware their connection is illegal.

“Another issue is around properties built in the 1950s or 60s with gully traps at ground level so as soon as rainwater starts ponding it runs into the sewerage system.

“Some of the issues relate to 20-30 years of legacy and historical regulation, and of course environmental expectations and regulations have changed considerably over the years.”

Mr Heath expects the inflow and infiltration project is expected to be completed by July.

“Once complete, the work will have a massive impact on Wairoa’s sewer network and result in minimal to no pump station overflows to the river and minimal to no discharges from the ponds outside of our consent parameters.

“Most importantly this work will help align the Wairoa District Council to the national policy statement, and the Hawkes Bay Regional Council submission to our Long-Term Plan around zero tolerance for non-compliance.”

Anyone who would like more information or who believes they may have an illegal connection but has not received a letter should phone the Council on 838 7309.

12 March 2019

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