Firm wants stinky water case dropped

Jonathan Eaton
Jonathan Eaton
A contractor accused of failing to operate or maintain sewage treatment plants properly in Clutha has asked for the case to be dismissed.

City Care Ltd faces a dozen charges that it improperly discharged or allowed the discharge of contaminants such as human waste, or that it is jointly responsible with the Clutha District Council for breaches.

However, City Care counsel Jonathan Eaton QC argued in the Dunedin District Court yesterday it was unclear what the contractor was alleged to have done, or not done.

"There’s no clarity about the case we’re being asked to answer," he said.

Mr Eaton applied for dismissal of all the charges — both the set alleging the contractor caused the discharge problems and an alternative set that it was jointly responsible with the council.

He also asked for the prosecuting agency, the Otago Regional Council, to spell out more clearly how the contractor was to blame.

The district council has already admitted its guilt for failing to provide adequate oversight and was fined almost $490,000 last year, but the contractor has denied culpability.

Details in the case against the council made for embarrassing reading.

Enforcement officers who inspected the Lawrence wastewater treatment plant described an odour "like rotten eggs combined with decayed chicken when left in the sun".

At the Tapanui plant, wastewater was bypassing the treatment system.

At Kaka Point, the discharge’s smell was described as strong.

The Clutha District Council had 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.

Mr Eaton told the court yesterday City Care "inherited" non-compliant operations.

Counsel for the regional council Nathan Laws said the case against the contractor was not as complicated or novel as Mr Eaton had made out.

It was likely to centre on lack of maintenance by the contractor and the extent to which this caused discharge problems, Mr Laws said.

The contractor either committed the offences or jointly committed them, he said.

Judge Brian Dwyer is to decide today if the case should proceed to trial.



I think this supports the argument for Central Government taking over the management of water.CDC have been hopeless!



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