ORC wants discharge application declined

Otago Regional Council staff have recommended an application to discharge wastewater for 35 years into Lake Wakatipu be declined.

In June, the Queenstown Lakes District Council applied for the permit to discharge from its current and future wastewater network when blockages, breakages, system failures, extreme storm events, and over-capacity in the council's network of pipelines occurred.

After assessing the actual and potential effects of allowing the proposed activity, principal consents officer Peter Christophers and senior consents officer Charles Horrell wrote that the application was "overwhelmingly inconsistent with all relevant planning documents, including Section 107 and Part 2 of the Resource Management Act 1991 (the Act)''.

The activity was also contrary to Section 107 of the RMA (which sets out restrictions on the granting of certain discharge permits); and the effects of the activity were more than minor and potentially significant, the report said.

One potential adverse effect cited in the report was the possibility of the public coming into contact with the contaminated water.

"Given the uncertainty of where a discharge may occur and for how long it will occur, there is a high level of risk to the public.

"Contact with this contaminated water can lead to a number of human health effects including viral infections such as norovirus and bacterial infections such as campylobacter,'' the report said.

The regional council received 200 submissions in relation to the application, of which 197 were opposed, one was neutral and two were in support.

Many submitters raised concerns over the lack of alternatives considered by the applicant.

The report authors said they agreed with the applicant that replacing all infrastructure would come at a prohibitive cost and would be unlikely to eliminate the discharges.

However, "we consider that the applicant has not adequately assessed all alternatives . . . Consideration has not been given to short-term and progressive upgrades''.

ORC general manager regulatory Richard Saunders said the report was part of a clear process.

"Staff have followed statutory guidelines to prepare this report and to arrive at their recommendation,'' he said.

A district council spokesman, Jack Barlow, said the council was aware of the Otago Regional Council's recommendation.

"There is a process to be followed, and QLDC will present the consent application before the hearing commissioners as intended,'' he said.



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