Shannon Wastewater Solution Likely Soon
Media Release: Tuesday 30 September
Shannon Wastewater Solution Likely Soon
Resource consent applications for Shannon’s wastewater treatment plant discharges are progressing well, thanks to effective collaboration between Horowhenua District Council and submitters.
A second round of mediation is scheduled for next week and it is anticipated that an Environment Court hearing will be held in November.
Council's Infrastructure Services Group Manager Gallo Saidy says the good progress is due to constructive relationships that Council has been able to build with submitters during the consenting process.
The original consent applications were for land discharges onto 25 hectares of an 85-hectare farm that Council bought for irrigating treated wastewater. The excess treated wastewater was to be piped and discharged directly into the Manawatu River during high river flows - for an average of 10 days each year.
Mr Saidy says that robust discussion with the submitters, most of whom initially opposed the original consent applications, has resulted in significant enhancements to what was initially proposed.
As a result most submitters now support Council's recommendation to trial treated wastewater irrigation over an additional 40 hectares, to a total of 65, and also at higher application rates in an attempt to further reduce what is to be discharged to the river.
In addition, any wastewater discharged to the river will be via two land-passage systems, an artificial wetland and a gently sloping channel planted with grass, flaxes and other suitable plants. The two land-passage systems avoid water being discharged directly from a pipe to the river - a move strongly supported by local iwi.
Ngati Whakatere spokesperson Robert Ketu says he is pleased with the collaboration on the project.
“Council have been willing to try new approaches and work with iwi to develop a discharge system that is more acceptable to the community and assists with restoring the river’s mauri," he said.
Water and Environmental Care Association (WECA) chair Mike Smith says that Horowhenua District Council has set a new benchmark in consultation in its commitment to remove Shannon and Foxton wastewater discharges from the river.
"Every discharge to the Manawatu River finishes up in our backyard, and municipal effluent is a major contributor. The Manawatu River Leaders Accord has been signed by all the councils in the catchment, but only Horowhenua District Council is honouring it so far, and we are proud to assist them in their effort," Mr Smith said.
Gallo Saidy says while there is a need to balance costs with acceptable solutions, Council has worked hard to address submitters’ concerns.
"We're extremely pleased to have reached a more sustainable solution with their input," he said.
"And, this successful collaborative approach, working with the community and iwi to resolve issues, is now also being successfully applied towards finding sustainable long-term solutions for Foxton."
Council's wastewater strategy review in 2011 identified land treatment as the preferred option over river discharges for all of the District’s wastewater. This review and Council’s subsequent Long Term Plan processes have prioritised each of the treatment plant upgrades based on their importance to the District and consent-renewal dates.
A short-term consent from Horizons Regional Council is currently being sought for Foxton’s discharges so that a long-term solution can be developed with the Foxton Wastewater Focus Group, which includes representatives from iwi, the wider community and key stakeholders.
"We are confident that all three systems will achieve sustainable outcomes with high levels of community support in the long run," Mr Saidy said.
"This collaborative process with the community and iwi will be applied to resolving Council’s other infrastructure upgrading challenges in future."