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The Akaroa Treated Wastewater Options Hearings Panel has concluded its deliberations on four options for dealing with the wastewater.
The panel, comprising Christchurch city councillors Sara Templeton, Mike Davidson and Pauline Cotter, and Banks Peninsula Community Board chairwoman Tori Peden and member Nigel Harrison, considered 343 written and 65 oral submissions on the topic.
Akaroa's wastewater system is old and needs to be replaced.
Council staff sought community feedback on four options for dealing with highly treated wastewater from a new plant already consented to be built on Old Coach Rd.
Three of the options involved using highly treated wastewater to irrigate new areas of native trees and one to continue discharging it into Akaroa Harbour via a new outfall.
The panel unanimously supported irrigating native trees and chose the Inner Bays option (Robinsons Bay, Takamātua and Hammond Point) over Goughs Bay or Pompeys Pillar.
The panel members agreed the Inner Bays option as outlined in the consultation booklet needed additional recommendations.
This is to enable smaller storage ponds and to future proof the system so that a purple pipe reuse system can be added in future, when regulations allow.
Templeton said she agrees with submitters that a sustainable development approach is needed and wants the council to work towards this.
"However, the current framework doesn't support this, so we need to lobby central government with other agencies and Ngāi Tahu, to set standards for non-potable reuse of treated wastewater.
"In the meantime, we need to act on the current situation and if standards are not set, the default position for council simply cannot be a harbour outfall."
Reducing the impact on the communities of Takamatua and Robinsons Bay is important and both council and Akaroa residents need to play their part, she said.
"We need to fix the pipes and work towards reuse and Akaroa residents need to treat the precious water supply as the taonga that it is – to conserve it and lower the impact of their waste on their neighbours."
The panel has recommended that the council actively works with regulators to make it possible for purple pipe systems to be introduced in New Zealand.
A final decision will be made by city councillors by the end of this year.
"This has been an extremely difficult project and has involved a lot of hard work by many people over many years, and I thank everyone for their efforts,'' Templeton said.
"I know the community will want to stay involved in this project and we have recommended a community reference group be established.''
The full recommendations will be available online this week.