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Council seeks new consent

Wellington Water will seek a new consent for Featherston’s wastewater treatment plant. PHOTO/FILE

South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] has commissioned Wellington Water [WW] to seek a new consent for the Featherston wastewater treatment plant.

WW said the new short-term consent application would inform a long-term solution.

It was not known what costs would be associated with the consent, but there was $17 million allocated to upgrading the treatment plant in the council’s 2021-31 Long-Term Plan.

The consent application is set to be lodged in January 2023, a month before an extension on the expired consent ends.

This application would then be fully publicly notified, and people will have an opportunity to make a submission on the application.

At this stage, it is expected the new consent would not be approved until late 2023 at the earliest.

The consent proposal includes upgrades to improve the performance of the plant, reduce ammonia, and introduce a wetland to filter and diffuse treated effluent before discharge into Donald’s Creek.

It would also allow time to trial and implement innovative treatment systems, supporting the transition to land-based treatment over time, as well as improving environmental outcomes to meet new measures introduced under National Policy Statements and regulations.

SWDC chief executive Harry Wilson said the proposal delivered a fit-for-purpose solution for the future management of Featherston’s wastewater.

“The Featherston community has been waiting a long time for a solution to manage the town’s wastewater now and into the future,” he said.

“While affordability is a big factor in that, it must be balanced with environmental and cultural outcomes.

“That’s why we’re proposing a solution that provides us with time to test and monitor new techniques that will deliver value for money for local ratepayers, give effect to the principles of Te Mana o te Wai, and support the council’s long-term investment.”

He said while it was an important project, future investment decisions may be impacted by the Government’s Three Waters Reform.

Featherston’s wastewater treatment process has been a long-winded affair going on for several years.

SWDC applied for a consent for upgrades to its Featherston wastewater operation in 2017.

In an effort to clean up Donald’s Creek and Lake Wairarapa, the council proposed to progressively move toward discharging the town’s UV-treated wastewater to land rather than waterways.

However, overwhelming public opposition to land-based irrigation of UV-treated wastewater led to a series of hearings, which were cancelled three times.

In March 2020, the council canned the Featherston proposals and started the process again with Wellington Water.

As part of identifying the solution, WW engaged with the community in 2020, seeking ideas and concerns around future management of the town’s wastewater. This engagement was then put on hold.

WW chief executive Colin Crampton said working on behalf of SWDC to develop the proposal was a significant project and incorporated public feedback.

  • There will be a public drop-in session on Thursday, September 15, at the Supper Room, Anzac Hall, Featherston, from 1-8pm where people can find out more and ask questions. – NZLDR
  • Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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