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WastewaterWai āwha me te wai para

The Wairoa District Council provides infrastructure around the district to deal with Storm and Wastewater. For an overview of the infrastructure please read below.

Inflow - Property Flooding Survey

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The short term focus for the stormwater & drainage activity is to reduce the risk of flooding within the urban areas of Wairoa and Tuai by maintaining piped and open drains.

Whilst drains protect property from flooding increasingly, communities are becoming concerned about the quality of the water in our streams, rivers, lakes and oceans.

What is Stormwater?

Stormwater is natural water. It is essentially rain that runs over the ground on its way to the sea. When rain falls on buildings, car parks, roads, driveways and gardens, if it doesn't soak into the ground, it follows its natural flow path downhill until it reaches a watercourse or is collect by a pipe system.

Where there is development, run-off from properties and roads flows into stormwater systems. The greater the level of development in a catchment, the greater the level of impervious surfaces, (e.g. roofs, driveways, paths etc) and the greater the conversion of rainfall into runoff.

How does the Council deal with Stormwater?

Towns have a need to control stormwater flow to prevent flooding to properties. Stormwater systems include watercourses, open channels, and other structures that reticulate stormwater to its final discharge point. Because public stormwater systems are designed to take stormwater away, inevitably sediment, debris or waste is collected at the same time.

Council recognises this, and is continually implementing a variety of policies, practices and procedures designed to handle stormwater and runoff so that we protect our assets but do not make water quality worse in the process.

Apply for a New Stormwater Connection


Apply for a new Wastewater Connection

What is wastewater?

Wastewater is 99.97 percent water.  The majority of which comes from showers, baths, and washing machines. The remainder includes organic matter such as:

  • household chemicals, paint, and pharmaceuticals
  • food scraps
  • fats, oil and grease
  • debris such as sand, grit, and plastic
  • human waste

Council’s wastewater infrastructure across the district

There are four wastewater schemes in the Wairoa District.

  • Wairoa Township (also receives septic tank waste)
  • Tuai
  • Opoutama
  • Mahia Beach 

All these schemes connect to a treatment facility through a series of pipes which run through and alongside people’s properties.  Using biological and ultraviolet treatment methods, treated wastewater is then discharged to nearby land or waterways.

How to reduce impacts on wastewater

Only flush the 3 p’s – poo, pee and paper

  • Do not put motor oil, fuels, solvents or highly toxic substances into the wastewater system
  • Do not flush wipes and other non-degradable material down the loo
  • Know where wastewater pipes are on your property so you can avoid damaging them
  • Do not plant trees or shrubs on your property within 1.5 metres of buried wastewater pipelines
  • Please ensure that gutters and down pipes connect only to stormwater drains. If connected to the wastewater system, sewage overflows can occur.

These are some of the areas that we are looking at improving:

  • Aged infrastructure – The wastewater systems in Wairoa and Tuai were installed in the mid 1900’s.  Deterioration, seismic activity and simply old age have caused some pipes to fail quicker than anticipated.  A lot of work has been completed to reline Wairoa’s wastewater pipes which has started to alleviate a lot of issues associated with inflow and infiltration of stormwater (I&I).
  • Redundant technology – Due to the old age of some of Wairoa’s systems, the technology is becoming or has become out of date and redundant. For example, the Tuai wastewater plant treats wastewater through UV and a sand filtration. This sand filter technology is old and not as effective as it once was, and suitable sand supplies are becoming harder and more expensive to source.
  • Inflow and Infiltration (I&I) – I&I is a common problem throughout New Zealand.  During heavy rain events, wastewater systems can become overwhelmed by stormwater, which can lead to the following:
    • Overflows into the Wairoa River:
      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 Treatment Plant:
      During wet weather, wastewater volumes flowing in to the treatment plant are six times the normal 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.
    • Wastewater overflows on private property:
      Wastewater has been reported to overflow from gully traps on several private properties during wet weather.

Wairoa Wastewater Consenting Project

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

The existing discharge consent expired in May 2019. 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.

Why is this an issue?

The Wairoa wastewater discharge consent expired in May 2019. An application to discharge treated wastewater to the environment had to be made to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC) by 30 November 2018. Wairoa District Council (WDC) staff have been working alongside specialist 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 ongoing discharge of treated wastewater, and recognition is also needed of the current state of the river.

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.

Update: September 2021

The consent process has been lengthy and involved, however a decision by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council is expected in October 2021. Further updates will be added to the website at this time.

Government funded three waters stimulus package

On 8th July 2020, the Government announced a funding package of $761 million to provide immediate post-COVID-19 stimulus to local authorities to maintain and improve three waters infrastructure. Of the $761 million, Wairoa District Council received $11.04 million.

Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Crown on 18th August 2020 to spend Crown funds in line with an agreed Delivery Plan.

The Delivery Plan outlined several key projects that Council intends to complete using stimulus funding; these are listed below:

  • Achilles Street water main relocation.
  • Opoutama Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade (discharge field expansion, self-contained vehicle waste station tanks, treatment plant upgrade).
  • CCTV of wastewater pipes.
  • Wastewater pipe renewals / construction / relining.
  • Water TOBY upgrade (including backflow preventers and electronic meters – Wairoa, Tuai, Frasertown).
  • Wairoa Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade (new inlet screen, electrical upgrade, desludging and geobags, filtration and UV system, irrigation to land)
  • Dedicated wastewater pump station generators.
  • Wastewater pump stations improvements.
  • River Parade water main relocation.
  • Raupunga water supply improvements.
  • Kitchener St stormwater drain contribution.
  • Hawke’s Bay regional three waters projects contribution.

Opoutama Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade

Further information for the Opoutama Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade can be found in the following document:



For more information please contact the Wairoa District Council.

+64 6 838 7309
97-103 Queen Street, Wairoa 4108
PO Box 54, Wairoa 4160


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