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‘Farterton’ returns

The “Farterton” saga has received another airing this week, with an unpleasant stench wafting from Carterton’s wastewater treatment plant.

The term was coined in 2021 when residents at the south end of the town complained of a “weeklong” stink emanating from the Dalefield Rd plant.

Carterton District Council [CDC] confirmed yesterday that it had received service requests regarding the odour after the concurrent failure of three aerators at its plant.

A spokesperson confirmed the odour was coming from the wastewater treatment plant, not the newly commissioned reservoirs.

“Pond Three is usually the most reliable, but the concurrent failure of three separate aerators is unexpected,” CDC said in a statement.

“Our three ponds rely on a fine balance of biochemistry to stop bad odours from travelling most of the time in waste stabilisation ponds.

“There are two distinct layers within ponds, anaerobic [no oxygen] bottom layer and aerobic [top layer].

“The lower layer is made of solids that accumulate over time in the bottom of each pond, where they are slowly consumed by microbes.

“These microbes produce bad odours that are consumed as they pass through the aerobic layer.

“However, if that balance is removed by weather changes, chemicals, or high loads in the network, it will impact the ponds, upsetting the aerobic layer and allowing the bad odours to get to the surface.”

CDC spokesperson said that repairs were made to the aerators yesterday and they are working in Pond Three.

“One had an electrical fault, which has been repaired, another had a mechanical fault, which has had a temporary fix ahead of a permanent replacement.

“The third had been clogged by rags and items flushed into the wastewater system.

“The odour is dissipating, and any residual smells through town should disappear over the weekend.

“We thank our community for alerting us to the problem and for their patience as we worked through the issue.”

CDC is dosing twice a day in the interim to increase the oxygen level and divert more of the flow to Pond One.

The council asked residents to “remember the three Ps” – “If it’s not pee, paper, or poo, it doesn’t go down the loo!”.

Among the objects that don’t conform to “the three Ps” and have jammed pumps at the wastewater treatment plant in the past are Batman costumes, nappies, and cooking oil.

One of the issues CDC is looking to address in its Long-Term Plan [LTP] is the outdated wastewater treatment plant equipment, which was last upgraded more than 60 years ago.

The potential proposed upgrades will address foul air treatment.

The draft LTP will be available to the public from March 22 as part of the Ordinary Council Meeting agenda for March 27.

Additional reporting by Kate Judson

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air


  1. Why does it take residents to let council know about the smell 🤔 . Is the wastewater system an experiment 🤔 😳 from the environmentalists greens 🤔 😳. Let them live beside it 🤔 😀. And if they want company 🤔 CEO MANAGERS AND OFFICERS can go as well 🤔 😉 😀. A wastewater hole for money 💰 🤑.

Comments are closed.

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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