Community group airs disquiet over water issues

Michael Laws
Michael Laws
Concerns about consent breaches, infrastructure limits, and a lack of information about wastewater discharge at the Hawea wastewater treatment plant were the main subjects for discussion at a meeting held late last week.

Otago regional councillors Ella Lawton and Michael Laws met Hawea Community Association members at the plant to discuss the issues.

One of the issues raised by the community association was that data shown in the Queenstown Lakes District Council's annual report showed nitrogen levels in the wastewater had consistently breached resource consent limits each year since 2012.

Cr Laws said the ORC had been "asleep at the wheel''.

"Every month they have to test the water and every month it's getting worse and worse and you'd expect that to set off some alarm bells somewhere.''

Community association chairwoman April Mackenzie said the association's main complaint was the fact that it had been noncompliant for a significant amount of time and nothing had been done, particularly with regard to more and more developments getting under way.

Ms Mackenzie said wastewater from the Hawea area was to be connected to the district council's Project Pure treatment plant at the Wanaka Airport via a 12km pipe in the coming years, but the timeline was uncertain.

"That site isn't big enough to take us and that will need to be expanded before we could be connected to it. That then gets complicated by whether the airport is going to expand or not because the plant would be right in the way of the expanded facility.''

The councillors and community association members agreed the existing Hawea plant would not be able to take on the possible 400 home special housing area at present being considered by the Government.

"When you've got growth at this rate, something has to give,'' Cr Lawton said.

"What are the limits to growth - the sewage treatment plant for a start. If your environment can't handle [it], you need to be able to turn the tap [of growth] on and off.''

The community association was also worried about the lack of information on where the plant's wastewater discharge ended up, given its close proximity to the Hawea River, and planned to seek that information from the regional council soon.


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