Can we Manage Sewage Better? Talk to the Council at Taipa next Wednesday (14 April)

Posted 10 years, 9 months ago    1 comment

Toxic Algal Bloom Discharge March 2010
Toxic Algal Bloom Discharge March 2010

Can we Manage Sewage Better? Talk to the Far North District Council

Community meeting:
Wednesday 14 April
Taipa Area School Whare

The extended drought that we are currently experiencing is putting pressure on the infrastructure that supplies the services we usually take for granted. Households are feeling the effects as water restrictions kick in for Kaitaia and in Doubtless Bay many people reliant on rainwater tanks are imposing their own restrictions to eke out the remaining stored water. But it is not only water consumption that has come under the spotlight – we are also facing additional problems disposing of the waste water.

Toxic Algal Bloom

With rivers much reduced in volume, the release of waste water from treatment plants can not be considered environmentally safe. At Taipa, a combination of holding the wastewater for a longer time at the sewerage treatment ponds and the hot, humid weather resulted in a toxic algal bloom developing by early March. As the ponds reached capacity, the District Council made the decision to treat the algal bloom with copper sulphate and release wastewater to the Parapara River and Aurere Estuary. At the time, signs warning against swimming and shellfish gathering were erected at Parapara Bridge and Aurere Estuary as it was considered that toxicity could still be high from the algal bloom. Assurances were given that none of the wastewater was being released into the Taipa River.

Why Release to Waterway?

Concerns have been voiced locally about the apparent discrepancy in treatment approaches between Kaitaia and Taipa. With low flow rates in the Awanui River an alternative, land-based disposal was used for Kaitaia’s treated wastewater, avoiding adding extra nutrients and contaminants to the diminished river. Why was this not instigated for Doubtless Bay? And what assurances do we have that the effects of the (treated) algal bloom are not still impacting on shellfish at Aurere? The signs have been officially removed from the estuary, but the questions about the safety of the kaimoana remain. Similar concerns surround the operation of the waste treatment facilities at Hihi.

Find out More and Have Your Say

Residents will have the opportunity to put these questions to Stephen Cooper, FNDC’s acting manager for waste, waste-water and refuse, at a public meeting on Wednesday April 14. The meeting, called by Doubtless Bay Community Care for our Catchment, will be in the Taipa School Whare, starting at 6.30pm. With submissions to the Far North District’s Annual Plan due by April 16 this will provide a timely opportunity to formulate public input to the Plan and perhaps gain an understanding of how our water and waste-water infrastructure could be managed more proactively. The Taipa Treatment Station’s discharge consent is also pending renewal, and although submissions to that process have not yet been opened to the public, better communication from the District Council about current management and options for improvement would enable residents to make an informed contribution to the consent process.

All are welcome at the meeting on 14 April. For ideas on a submission to the Annual Plan re proactive water and sewage management, please click here.


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