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~ Wai māori



Wairoa's wastewater systems are undergoing a revamp in different areas around the district at present.

Wairoa Wastewater Consenting Project

The Wairoa Wastewater Project is looking to find ways to improve the way the towns wastewater is discharged, and then obtain approval for the discharge from the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.

The existing discharge consent is due to expire in May 2019. Before a replacement is sought a decision is needed on what any future discharge system may look like.

We (the community) need to adopt a system we are happy with; that is a system that has no negative impacts on the environment and the community, and is affordable.

The Wairoa District Council is working alongside consultants, the Wairoa Wastewater Stakeholder Group and the wider community to find the most appropriate method for future discharge of our wastewater.

On these pages you will find information related to this project, including considerable technical information.

You are encouraged to ask questions and provide feedback.

Why is this an issue

The Wairoa wastewater discharge consent is due to expire in May 2019. An application to discharge treated wastewater to the environment needs to be made to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) by 30 November 2018. Wairoa District Council (WDC) staff have been working alongside advisors to develop options for a new discharge system, which has been informed with input from the Wairoa Wastewater Stakeholder Group and feedback received from the community.

It is also clear that the condition of the Wairoa River is not great, to the point that its condition caused by upstream sources of contaminants (silt, nutrients, and pathogens) is potentially masking any effects of the treated wastewater discharge that occurs shortly before the Wairoa River reaches the sea. The community would like to see improvements to the management and quality of water in the river, including that discharged from the wastewater treatment plant.

While removal of treated wastewater from the Wairoa River is desirable from an environmental and cultural perspective, alternatives have technical limitations and are expensive. A solution is needed to allow the on going discharge of treated wastewater, and recognition is also needed of the current state of the river.

Councils Wastewater Infrastructure

  • Currently, wastewater travels through an aging network of pipes from residential and commercial connections to the Wastewater Treatment Plant settling ponds near Pilot Hill. In 2015, the Wairoa Wastewater Project started. This project will identify a best practicable option for the future of Wairoa's wastewater treatment and discharge. Click here for more information.

In July 2012, Council approved the spending of $350,000 from depreciation reserves to go towards investigations into wastewater reticulation inflow and infiltration within the Wairoa township.

Once the investigations are carried out, council staff will have a very good understanding of all the issues, as well as have various options to move the project forward.

Part of the initial investigations will be to look at the cultural implications of developing a new system.

WDC's Maori Standing Committee have resolved to advocate on behalf of tangata whenua in regards to protecting the river, which is central to spiritual and physical wellbeing, as well as to tribal identity.

As part of the WDC, the committee will be actively involved in the process to bring the wastewater system up to an acceptable standard.

This will involve working closely with the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, which has the official responsibility of monitoring and protecting the river.

The entire project is expected to take several years due to the complicated nature of the problem and the costs involved.

Here is an explanation of the three main problems with the existing system:

  • Overflows into the Wairoa River during wet weather:
    During heavy rain, wastewater overflows from three pump stations into the Wairoa River. There is also another overflow point downstream from the Kopu Road pump station. WDC's wastewater discharge consent does not permit these overflows.
  • Excessive discharges from the Wastewater Treatement Plant:
    During wet weather, wastewater flows into the treatment plant are six times the flows experienced during dry weather. As a result, there are times when there is inadequate storage in the ponds at the treatment plant and it is necessary to discharge wastewater to the outfall for longer durations than those specified in the discharge consent.
  • Wastewate overflows on private property:
    Wastewater has been reported to overflow from gully traps on several private properties during wet weather.

Councils Wastewater Infrastructure

  • Mahia Beach Community Wastewater Scheme (MBCWS):
    A brand new system is in the process of being built for the Mahia Beach community. The scheme will replace septic tanks, which have caused environmental problems within the small coastal village.

    Please click here for the newsletters updating the progress of the scheme, including maps of where the new treatment plant and dispersal field are located.
  • Opoutama Wastewater Scheme (OWS):
    The village will soon have a new system installed to replace aging septic tanks. The majority of treatment will happen at each dwelling before being piped to an underground dispersal area.

    Please click here for the capital project funding plan and the Newsletter.


For more information about wastewater please contact the Wairoa District Council.

+64 6 838 7309

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