Call to reassess funding of effluent disposal sites

Graeme Bell
Graeme Bell
The funding model for effluent disposal sites is unfair, an Otago regional councillor says.

Graeme Bell has repeated a call for a rethink on the subject and says the present system is unfair on Central Otago residents.

The maintenance of the effluent disposal sites is funded through a targeted regional council rate.

Two of the eight sites in Otago are in Central Otago.

However, Cr Bell said Central Otago ratepayers should not be paying for the disposal of waste that came from stock brought in from outside the district.

"There are two [effluent disposal] sites in Central Otago at present and another one on the way. But I don't believe we [Central Otago residents] should be the ones paying for them. It's not fair."

Cr Bell has spoken up about the issue before and has been backed by Central Otago district councillors and Mayor Tim Cadogan.

Cr Bell said he would like to see a user-pays system introduced, whereby transport operators and farmers paid a levy towards the maintenance of the sites. He would also like to see police be able to fine drivers for effluent that spilled on to roads.

Council general manager, operations, Dr Gavin Palmer said effluent spillage on to roads was a serious issue for safety, health and environmental reasons, but it was very difficult to stop trucks from spilling effluent or to identify and prosecute people who allowed effluent to be spilled on to roads.

He said effluent disposal sites did not have to be used by law, "so we must minimise barriers to safe and responsible effluent disposal to ensure that trucking companies are using them".

Any alternative, industry-targeted approach for funding and maintaining the sites would "need to be pursued at a political level", Dr Palmer said.

Cr Bell was also still unhappy about waste from Central Otago's newest effluent disposal site, near Brassknocker Rd, between Alexandra and Chatto Creek, being transported by a contractor out of the district for disposal.

The effluent will be trucked by SJ Allen (Balclutha) to the Balclutha oxidation ponds owned by the Clutha District Council.

Dr Palmer said last month discussions with the Central Otago District Council showed the Cromwell wastewater treatment plant could not be relied upon to receive "all of the effluent all of the time" from the Brassknocker Rd facility, and a contract was put in place to ensure the facility was emptied whenever needed.

Dr Palmer did not answer questions from the Otago Daily Times about how much it was costing to truck the effluent out of Central Otago, and said the handling of the contract was an operational matter for the regional council.

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