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Tougher standards for septic tank systems

Jun 4 2004

Tougher standards for septic tank systems

For immediate release: Friday 4 June 2004 Environment Bay of Plenty wants to set tougher standards for septic tank systems in the region, especially around the vulnerable Rotorua lakes.

The regional council is carrying out a full review of its On-Site Effluent Treatment Regional Plan. It notified a new draft plan on June 1 and this is open for comment until July 30.

Group manager regulation and resource management Paul Dell says the current plan does not make the most of new treatment technologies in sensitive areas “We felt it needed to be changed to protect the environment better.” The new draft lifts the standards for on-site effluent treatment systems generally. It includes new design requirements such as outlet solids filters for all new conventional systems and introduces greater setback distances from water bodies.

For the first time, the plan addresses contamination by nitrogen and phosphorus, nutrients that affect water quality. New rules focus on the treatment of these nutrients.

The draft includes a revised list of “hot spot” communities on compulsory inspection and maintenance programmes. Several communities - Athenree, Waihi Beach, Hamurana and Woodlands - have been removed from the list, mostly because of progress made with reticulation or upgrades. Rotoma, Te Puna and Ongare Point are now included after monitoring and surveys suggested problems with degraded water quality.

It also introduces stricter requirements for the entire Rotorua lakes catchment. Its key focus is on “hot spot” communities as well as on systems located within 200 metres of the lake edge or at a high density (more than one system on four hectares).

Anyone is able to make comments on the draft plan and these will be accepted until 30 July 2004. The draft plan is posted on www.envbop.govt.nz. Or call 0800 ENV BOP (368 267) to order a copy free of charge.


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