Featherston Wastewater Project

Resources for the community

Check out our Project Overview and Update; our FAQs, or watch our video here.

BackgroundFeatherston Wastewater Ponds

In 2008 South Wairarapa District Council set an ambitious goal of discharging 100 per cent of the district’s treated wastewater to land, except when there is heavy rain. At the time, all of the district’s wastewater was being discharged into fresh waterways and we recognised that this was not good for the environment. The government also recognised this and asked local authorities to find more environmentally acceptable ways to dispose of wastewater.

Since then we have started moving the district’s schemes to discharging wastewater to land. We started using this method at our Martinborough plant in 2017 and Greytown in June 2019. In 2015 we purchased 160ha of land beside the existing Featherston oxidation ponds as part of the long-term plan to irrigate treated wastewater to land.


Land treatment schemes are encouraged under the Wellington Regional Plans. We are proposing to progressively move to discharging wastewater to land at the Featherston plant rather than to waterways. Our proposal for Featherston is to reduce the discharge to waterways by 54% within two years, 68% within five years and 94% after 13 years at the latest.

Wastewater is first treated in oxidation ponds then UV disinfected in the treatment plant to kill bacteria and viruses before being irrigated to land. Treated wastewater is only irrigated when soil conditions are suitable and there is less than a strong breeze. Close monitoring and adjustments will manage the water quality that is irrigated to land. The crop growth on the land is part of the process, with the plants chosen to optimise the absorption of nutrients. Council will carry out an annual assessment of the soil health to maintain the health of the crops.

Council investigated numerous other options such as constructing a high-rate treatment plant with discharge to Donald’s Creek, with a small amount being discharged to a 6-hectare block; or utilising the existing wastewater treatment plant with enhanced treatment and piping to the Ruamahanga River and Tauherenikau River.

The proposed land treatment scheme will have significant positive impacts to Donald Creek and Lake Wairarapa/Wairarapa Moana by treating and disposing of the wastewater to land in a sustainable manner. Irrigating treated wastewater to land is considered good practice and is generally encouraged from a cultural perspective.

For more information see our FAQs and our video here

Resource consent application update

A resource consent application was lodged in 2017. The application is now before the Hearing Panel and a hearing was scheduled to start in late May but has been postponed to give Council time to carry out further community engagement and provide the panel with more technical information.

Community engagement sessions

Six community engagement sessions were held in July 2019. All the feedback gathered from these sessions is being compiled for SWDC staff and consultants to consider and address. Your feedback will be used to assist the council in finding the best way forward. It also helps us understand the public’s concerns and address these through providing further information to the community.


Project Enquiry

For more information please complete the form and we will respond within ten working days:

South Wairarapa District Council