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Te Puna residents urged to clean septic tanks

MEDIA RELEASE

Te Puna residents urged to clean septic tanks

For immediate release: Monday 8 December 2003

More than half of Te Puna’s residents have yet to clean out their septic tanks, increasing the risk of pollution in the shallow waters of Tauranga harbour over summer.

Environment Bay of Plenty is urging people who have not already done so to have their septic tank systems inspected and cleaned out immediately. Just over 40% of Te Puna’s 136 properties have so far taken part in the voluntary maintenance programme set up by the community last summer.

Ian Noble, chairman of the regulation and monitoring committee, says participation slowed down after an initial burst of activity. Yet it is urgent the work be done before the holiday season. “It will make it safer for people swimming, especially children who like to splash around in the shallow water,” he says. Shallow water, puddles and drains often have higher concentrations of bacteria because the water is less diluted.

Environment Bay of Plenty’s regular monitoring still shows high levels of bacteria in drains entering Tauranga Harbour at Te Puna. Environment Bay of Plenty plans to include Te Puna in a special “hotspot” category in its On-Site Effluent Treatment Plan. That would make regular cleaning, upgrading and inspection compulsory.

Another Tauranga Harbour community, Omokoroa, was also under the spotlight at the council’s regulation and monitoring committee meeting recently. Though Omokoroa is an official pollution “hotspot”, Environment Bay of Plenty told residents a year ago they would defer compulsory inspections. It deferred the programme because of Western Bay of Plenty District Council’s progress with plans for reticulating sewage in the area. However, the district council proposal is now being appealed in the Environment Court.

At the meeting, councillors had to decide whether to extend the deferral for a further year. After discussion, they decided to cut the time back to six months and then review the situation.

Environment Bay of Plenty will continue to require septic tank system upgrades at Omokoroa when properties are sold or buildings are altered. If the sewerage reticulation scheme does not go ahead, residents will need to upgrade their systems to meet stricter environmental standards, Mr Noble says.

ENDS

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