Wastewater to go underground

Ebel Kremer
Ebel Kremer
The decision to use a subsurface irrigation system to dispose of Te Anau's wastewater was the ''best outcome to be expected'', the Fiordland Sewerage Options group says.

On Tuesday, the Southland District Council made its final decision in what had been a controversial issue for Te Anau and Manapouri residents over the past four years, to dispose of Te Anau's wastewater underground, rather than discharging it via rotary irrigators.

The council had resource consent to discharge via pivot irrigation at the Kepler Block, beside the Te Anau Manapouri Airport, but yesterday voted for the community-preferred option of subsurface irrigation.

Fiordland Sewerage Options chairman Alistair Paton-McDonald said the group was ''happy'' with the result, despite continuing to disagree about where the wastewater would be discharged.

The group was formed in 2014 by residents opposed to the council's original plan, primarily concerned about the odour, effect on groundwater, the cost, and the negative perceptions of tourists.

''We still don't agree with the Kepler being the right site for the discharge of the sewerage and we believe it should have been treated properly before it went anywhere, but that was the best outcome in the circumstances.''

Tuesday's council meeting was ''pretty emotive'' and some business owners who worked in and around the airport had threatened to close if the pivot irrigation went ahead, he said.

The group had not anticipated it had convinced so many councillors, as nine voted in favour of the subsurface method, and three against, he said.

Cr Ebel Kremer, of Te Anau, said the council had made the right decision.

''A lot of people put a huge amount of effort into getting to this point and I think it's the right decision for environmental reasons, and it's the right decision for the airport.

''It was about community acceptability,'' he said.

The subsurface irrigation system was the most expensive option and would result in Te Anau and Manapouri residents footing $1.5million of the $22.2million bill. However, any savings made during the implementation of the system would be taken from the ratepayer's bill, he said.

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