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More rural properties to clean septic tanks


More rural properties to clean septic tanks for environment’s sake

For immediate release: Friday 19 May 2006

More Bay of Plenty rural communities are being put onto compulsory septic tank maintenance programmes that will help protect the environment until new standards come into force in a few years.

They join a growing list of communities that have joined the programme since the late 1990s.

Environment Bay of Plenty has set inspection deadlines for two new coastal communities and one lake community in the region. It has done the same for several hundred un-reticulated properties located within 200m of Rotorua district lakes.

In the western Bay of Plenty, the communities of Ongare Point and Te Puna are affected by the new requirements. Ongare Point residents will need to have their septic tank systems professionally cleaned and inspected by 1 December 2006. The Te Puna deadline is earlier, in June.

Regional council senior project implementation officer, Paul Futter, says most Te Puna residents are aware of the change and have taken a proactive stance. More than 80 systems of an estimated 136 have already undergone checks.

Rotorua’s Rotoma residents are the third affected community, with an inspection deadline of December 1. Rotorua properties within 200m of a lake edge will come under the programme’s umbrella if they are not already reticulated or tagged for reticulation.

Mr Futter says all residents will be contacted beforehand so they will know what they need to do. He suggests people planning to clean their septic tanks before then call Environment Bay of Plenty to check if they are going onto the programme. If they are, they might consider having an inspection done at the same time. “It will cost less to do it in one hit,” he says.

The maintenance programme involves professional cleaning of septic tanks systems and checks to ensure they are working properly. Many septic tank systems are very old and very basic. In some areas, they are causing quite serious problems, with bacteria and nutrients leaching into nearby waterways and degrading water quality.

Several Bay of Plenty communities have been on the programme since the late 1990s, including Tanners Point and Lake Tarawera. Others have now been removed because of improvements to the environmental situation or confirmation of reticulation.

Inspections postponed

At a meeting on Tuesday 2 May, Environment Bay of Plenty regulation and monitoring committee decided to postpone inspections in four areas where sewage will be reticulated within the next few years.

They are Okere Falls, Otaramarae, Brunswick, and Rotokawa. “We don’t think there is much to be gained by having systems checked now,” Mr Futter explains. “It’s better if people put the cost of doing that towards paying for reticulation when it happens.”

Environment Bay of Plenty’s Reviewed On-Site Effluent Treatment Regional Plan is bringing in new rules to protect the environment around sensitive areas better. They mean residents with septic tanks in specific locations will have to upgrade their septic tanks or apply for resource consent within the next four to eight years. Information gathered through the maintenance programme will help assess options for upgrading, Mr Futter says.


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