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Opoutama wastewater scheme design phase underway

Wairoa District Council is working towards upgrading the Opoutama /Blue Bay wastewater scheme to meet the demands of the peak summertime population.

An abatement notice issued by the Hawkes Bay Regional Council for the non-compliance of the Blue Bay/Opoutama wastewater scheme endorses Council’s decision to upgrade the facility.

Council continues to work with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to look at a long term solutions for the Opoutama wastewater scheme.

The upgrade is number two on the Wairoa District Council’s priority list in relation to the Three Waters $11 million Government funding boost.

Group Manager Community Assets and Services Stephen Heath said upgrading the Blue Bay/Opoutama wastewater scheme to meet environmental loadings and limits has long been recognised as a priority.

“We know these loadings and limits have been exceeded in the past, and while this has not adversely affected the surrounding area, non-compliance is not acceptable.

“There are also issues with shock loadings during rain events and population swell during holiday periods.”

Mr Heath said the Opoutama/Blue Bay scheme fits perfectly with the key outcomes of the Central Government Three Waters funding being compliance, future proofing and environmental sustainability.

“This funding creates an opportunity to fix a legacy issue at no cost to ratepayers.

“A total of $700,000 has been allocated for stage one to upgrade the scheme with design work underway and physical work expected to start early in the new year with the intention to have the work completed in time for the 2022 peak holiday season.”

“It is disappointing to have non-compliant issues. We are currently in the design phase and are working in partnership with the regional council which understands our plan to upgrade and are happy with progress to date.

“We will continue to manage this situation as best we can until our solution is in place. We recognise this will be difficult as we near the peak summer period.”

Alternative solutions include trucking effluent out of Opoutama to be disposed of in the town’s wastewater system to deal with shock loading the system faces during the summer peak season. With the borders closed, we do not anticipate the larger then usual population swell at Opoutama and Blue Bay, but we are looking at all options for solutions to deal with shock loading.

The Opoutama /Blue Bay wastewater scheme was purchased by Council around 10-years ago. It was originally designed for the Blue Bay subdivision and expanded to service the Opoutama area including the public toilet block.

With the Blue Bay development now back online, this places additional pressure on the system and the $11 million three waters grant from the Government now allows Council to upgrade the system at no cost to the local ratepayers of Opoutama and Blue Bay.

Mr Heath said after more recent investigations it appeared the scheme was right on the limit of being able to meet the environmental standards and would continue to be problematic, so bringing it up to standard has always been a priority for Council.

“Securing the $11.04 million for Three Waters work as part of the Government’s national three waters (drinking water, wastewater, stormwater) investment funding package, has allowed us to complete the work at no cost to ratepayers.”

The grant will also go towards installing new dedicated underground isolated tanks for the Blue Bay Dump Station, again at no cost to rate payers.

The current dump station, situated next to the public toilet block at Blue Bay, Opoutama has been temporarily disconnected.

Council had installed the dump station, which along with an upgrade of Mahia waste management facilities, was part of funding received through the Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

At the time of installation Council understood no consent variation for the station was needed. However, after receiving complaints about the connection Council disconnected the dump station while a variation to the existing consent is being considered.

Mr Heath said the dump station allows campers in camper vans and caravans to responsibly dispose of their waste and Council looks forward to completing the necessary variation process and reconnecting the dump station.

He said a resource consent from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will not be required as there will be no discharge because the new underground tanks will be completely sealed and will be emptied by a sucker truck.

It is hoped the new dump station will be active by April next year and the existing dump station will be re-utilised.

“Once the Blue Bay/Opoutama wastewater scheme has had improvement upgrades completed, Council will reconsider connecting the dump station back to the Blue Bay/Opoutama wastewater scheme and will develop the necessary systems and procedure around that if necessary.”

Meanwhile, Council is continuing in its application to have a section of the paper road that runs along the beachfront of the Blue Bay subdivision recognised a reserve.

The road stopping and subsequent vesting as a local purpose recreation reserve is before the Environment Court.

Leaving the area as an unformed legal road creates restrictions whereas treating the land as a reserve provides a lot more opportunities.

As a recreation reserve the area can be administered by Council which will be better able to protect and enhance the land as a recreational space for all members of the community to enjoy.

The change will also enable better management of the land, such as weed eradication, enhancement and foreshore protection.

Mr Heath said it is great to see investment and energy being directed into such a beautiful area.

“Mahia’s population more than triples during the peak summer holiday period so we need to ensure we have a system that can respond to the extreme increases in pressure on local infrastructure.”

14 December 2020

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