Clutha wastewater charges to stand

Applications to dismiss charges against a contractor for failing to operate or maintain wastewater treatment plants properly in Clutha have been rejected.

Problems were found at five plants City Care Ltd was contracted by the Clutha District Council to operate and the contractor is facing 12 charges in relation to six alleged offences.

Four cover wastewater discharges into water, one is for a wastewater discharge on to land and the other concerns odour.

City Care concedes plants did not comply with resource consents, but the case is expected to focus on what the contractor was required to do and the extent to which its actions, or lack of action, caused breaches.

Yesterday, in the Dunedin District Court, Judge Brian Dwyer declined to dismiss both the set of charges alleging City Care was responsible for the offences and an alternative set alleging it was jointly responsible with the Clutha District Council.

He made a minor adjustment to six documents to refer to the contract explicitly and left open the possibility the approach to the charges might be adjusted further.

Whether the contractor had a case to answer would be determined after presentation of evidence at a hearing, the judge said.

The Clutha District Council awarded City Care a $4million annual contract to manage the district’s water supply, stormwater, wastewater and support for aquatic activities in Balclutha and Milton, starting in July 2019.

The council admitted last year it had failed to provide adequate oversight and it was fined almost $490,000.

The summary of facts in the case against the council described inspection failures and problems caused by lack of maintenance.

City Care denies culpability for breaches of the Resource Management Act.

The five treatment plants where problems were identified were at Tapanui, Kaka Point, Lawrence, Owaka and Stirling.

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