Illegal discharge almost causes treatment plant failure
23 September 2013
Illegal discharge almost causes treatment plant failure.
An illegal discharge of concentrated organic material released into Karori’s wastewater network this morning blocked the intake screens at the Western Wastewater treatment plant, meaning it could not take in the regular wastewater flow.
Operators Veolia Water were able to divert the flow into a storage tank used during heavy rainfall, while they worked to clear the screens of the excessive rags and other material.
The tank was 91% full before they were able to restore flow to the plant – narrowly averting the need to discharge the partially treated wastewater to the South Coast via the plant’s outfall pipe.
Capacity Infrastructure Services and Wellington City Council trade waste officers have been frustrated by the actions of a ‘phantom dumper’ illegally discharging concentrated organic material into the Karori wastewater network since February.
The discharges take place every four to eight weeks, usually in the early hours of the morning. The material has been tested for a variety of substances, but contains nothing to distinguish it from typical organic waste. Where it’s coming from, how it’s being stored prior to the discharges and who is responsible remain unknown.
Capacity and the council are continuing to appeal to the public for any information they might have that could help with the investigation. Illegally discharging waste into the public network is an offence punishable by fines of up to $20,000. Additional penalties may apply for environmental damage caused as a result of any illegal discharge.