Non-compliance by some of Waitaki's wastewater treatment
plants is concerning Otago regional councillors worried about
the double-standard message it is sending the region's dairy
The regional council visited Waitaki District Council-owned
wastewater treatment plants in Palmerston, Moeraki, Kakanui
and Oamaru to check their compliance with their resource
consent conditions late last year.
As a result, Moeraki and Kakanui were given significant
non-compliance grades and Oamaru and Palmerston minor
non-compliance, a report to the regional council's regulatory
Council resource management director Dr Selva Selvarajah said
Moeraki's bad grade was due to poor effluent quality being
discharged directly into Waiwherowhero Creek.
There was a long history of problems with the plant and its
stringent consent conditions were eased about five years ago.
Waitaki District Council was looking at a new system and had
asked for another two-year extension.
''It's disappointing to know of this ongoing non-compliance
for many years. It's taken a long time and now we're
considering another two-year extension.''
With Kakanui, the effluent had leaked underground from its
wetland system and the council again was looking at a new
system, in this case to pipe it to Oamaru.
''They're asking for a bit more time.''
Cr Trevor Kempton said it was difficult when people perceived
the council's reaction to these problems as ''one rule for
farmers and another for urban areas''.
Cr Michael Deaker agreed, asking staff why they were so
tolerant with local authority breaches.
Dr Selvarajah said the main reason was practicality in what a
consent-holder could achieve on large, expensive projects
funded by the ratepayer.
''We could prosecute them or fine them but what happens
afterwards?''The council was happy to use the regulatory tool
on territorial authorities when there was ''blatant''
non-compliance, he said.
However, it took a ''pragmatic approach'' if time was needed
for ''extremely expensive systems'' as it was ratepayers who
footed the cost of any fines.
Waitaki District Council assets group manager Neil Jorgensen
said the council was aware it had issues with its smaller
rural wastewater treatment systems and recognised it was not
complying with its consent conditions in Moeraki and Kakanui.
It had received consents on December 18 to allow it two years
to construct the new pipeline to Kakanui which would remove
the need for consents for that township. The estimated cost
was $230,000, he said.
Moeraki was ''not an easy fix'' and the regional council had
granted it a two-year consent to give it time to find an
affordable solution for its community, he said.
About $200,000 had been budgeted to find a solution which was
a lot of money for just 200 connections, Mr Jorgensen said.
The council had been upgrading its wastewater treatment
systems and had been granted consents for systems in Omarama,
Otematata and Duntroon by Environment Canterbury.