MEDIA RELEASE: Higher level treatment possible for Featherston wastewater upgrade

27 August 2019

South Wairarapa District Council continues to investigate higher level treatment options for its proposed wastewater treatment plant upgrade in Featherston. In an effort to clean up Donald’s Creek and Lake Wairarapa, Council is proposing to progressively move to discharging the town’s UV-treated wastewater to land rather than waterways.

Irrigating wastewater to land schemes are already in place in Martinborough and Greytown, and SWDC is working through the resource consent application process to enable a similar wastewater disposal system for Featherston. The Council is applying for a long-term consent (35 years) for the discharge of treated wastewater to land and water, with the proposal aiming to reduce the discharge to waterways by 54% within two years, 68% within five years and 94% within 13 years.

A key theme raised by Featherston residents at last month’s community engagement sessions was the wish for the wastewater to be treated to a standard higher than was proposed in the Council’s consent application.

Council Chief Executive Harry Wilson says, “There is a strong message coming through that the community wants our moana cleaned up and for the wastewater to have minimal effects on the environment. This is also Council’s desire, and is in line with the objectives of central government through the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management, and the direction of Greater Wellington Regional Council’s Natural Resources Plan.

“On top of this, a strong focus on pathogens and their risks on public health has arisen from the Havelock North drinking water contamination event. We are front-footing this issue by carrying out in-depth technical assessment work prior to our consent hearing,” Mr Wilson says.

SWDC’s technical specialists are looking into tertiary treatment of wastewater and a range of feasible add-on wastewater treatment plant technologies to reduce pathogens to an acceptable level. The effect of the treated wastewater on the receiving environment is being investigated, and further soil and groundwater monitoring is being carried out on the proposed irrigation sites at Murphy’s Line and Longwood Road.

Work is also being done to reduce the amount of storm water leaking into the wastewater network, which may result in less water needing to be treated and potentially could lead to less land being needed for irrigation.

SWDC and GWRC continue to work together to identify when a hearing date may be scheduled. Both councils agree that potential overall benefits may be achieved by deferring the hearing beyond the current completion date of 1 November. This would ensure a comprehensive assessment of effects of the proposal, therefore giving submitters and GWRC officers a better understanding of environmental effects, and how SWDC propose to mitigate these effects.

Mr Wilson says, “While we acknowledge the potential delay of the hearing may be frustrating to some submitters, completing this additional work now rather than later could fast track us to cleaning up our waterways and potentially beating our current targets.” 

Council’s wastewater solution for Featherston aims meet the direction for cleaning up the District’s waterways by the National Policy Statement for Fresh Water Management, the Ruamahanga Whaitua process, and GWRC’s Natural Resources Plan, as well as Regional Public Health standards. 

ENDS

Media contact

Amy Wharram
027 252 2863

South Wairarapa District Council