Carterton Mayor John Booth, Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott, Environment Minister Nick Smith and Carterton wastewater project manager Greg Boyle at the Daleton Farm sewage treatment site. PHOTO/CHELSEA BOYLE

CHELSEA BOYLE

chelsea.boyle@age.co.nz

Carterton District Council will be hoping its ambitious wastewater management plan can draw some support from the second round of government funding after leaving empty-handed from the first.

The Freshwater Improvement Fund pledges $100 million over 10 years to improve the management of New Zealand’s lakes, rivers, streams, groundwater and wetlands but, of this sum, $44 million has already been allocated.

On Monday, Environment Minister Nick Smith was front and centre as project manager Greg Boyle delivered a presentation on Carterton’s ongoing work to minimise the discharge of treated effluent into the Mangatarere Stream.

Mr Boyle’s presentation showed that the discharge of treated effluent to water had stretched over a period of nine months in 2010 but that would drop to one month by 2020.

The use of a three-chamber 200,000m3 reservoir to store treated sewage in this system would be a first in New Zealand and Australia.

Mr Smith was clearly impressed by Carterton’s wastewater scheme saying it was underpinned by a “healthy dose of ambition and pragmatism”.

“Everybody recognises the need to improve but there is a very real cost,” Mr Smith said.

“The part I am hugely encouraged by is the recognition that this is not just a farmer’s problem.”

However, he could not commit to government funding behind the project, saying instead that he would be keeping an interested eye when the resource consents were finalised.

Mr Smith said it was “unusual” for the government to contribute to town sewage treatment schemes but he remained optimistic “Wairarapa would get a slice of the action”.

Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott was advocating “that we come to the party”, Mr Smith added.

“Alastair Scott has been pushing the case for government support for the upgrade.”

Chief executive Jane Davis said the council was “disappointed” it had missed out in the first round but would be making another bid.

“There is still money left in the fund so we will be making another bid.”

With the high level of innovation, and the way others would learn from it, they held a good case, she said.

Under current plans, the council will take on $8 million debt.

With about 2500 rateable units in Carterton, the cost would be $1200 per household over 10 years to pay for the project.

“The urban ratepayers pay by far the majority, so they pay about 90 per cent.”

While in Carterton, Mr Smith and Mr Scott visited a local dairy farm on Andersons Line owned by the Smith family.

Co-owner Fraser Smith said waterways on farm had already been fenced off and a further $100,000 had been spent to upgrade effluent management.

He would hate to think in five or 10 years, the farm would have to pay that kind of money again, he said.

The minister said he had never experienced an election campaign in which farmers had been such a “punching bag”.