Homes’ stormwater going into wastewater system

The darker Manuherikia River meets the Clutha below the town centre at Alexandra. PHOTO: STEPHEN...
The Central Otago District Council will be contacting homeowners in Alexandra ([pictured) and Cromwell this month after 220 homes were identified as being plumbed incorrectly. Photo: ODT files
Hundreds of homes in Alexandra and Cromwell could face a $1000 bill after their properties were identified as discharging stormwater into the towns’ wastewater systems.

The Central Otago District Council (CODC) will be contacting homeowners in both towns this month after 220 homes were identified as being plumbed incorrectly.

McLellan’s Plumbing & Heating owner Rory McLellan said he estimated the average cost per property with a non-compliant stormwater system would be about $1000, but the problem was relatively easy to fix.

"A lot of the time people have to put in a soak pit. On-site drainage is permitted in Central Otago."

A soak pit is a hole filled with rocks and rubble which collects water and disperses it through natural drainage into the surrounding soil.

The issue was serious and could lead to wastewater treatment plants being overwhelmed, Mr McLellan said.

CODC regulatory services manager Lee Webster said non-compliant stormwater drainage entering the wastewater system was an issue that could have an impact on public and environmental health, as well as ultimately costing the ratepayer more if left unchecked.

"Stormwater - the rainwater that runs off your roof and hard surfaces - should not enter the wastewater system.

"If it does, the increased flows caused by heavy rain can reduce the effectiveness of the wastewater treatment plant and process, and cause wastewater overflows where untreated sewage can enter waterways.

"Keeping the stormwater out of the wastewater network results in improved environmental outcomes for our community and reduces wastewater treatment costs."

The monitoring team was aware the non-compliant stormwater systems could be historical and homeowners might not be aware of the issue, so the council was keen to work with people to correct these issues, he said.

"Our team will provide homeowners with the appropriate information and support to remedy the issue as smoothly and cost-effectively as possible.

"By remedying these issues, we can avoid unnecessary capacity upgrades to our wastewater systems, which help us keep rates down for our community."

The testing of private stormwater connections was undertaken across the district by council contractors due to the increasing burden on the district’s wastewater systems and the ongoing work programme had identified the Alexandra and Cromwell properties where stormwater was being discharged into the wastewater system.

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