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Land purchase provides new wastewater options

In a move that could mean less discharge of treated wastewater into waterways, Carterton District Council [CDC] has agreed to buy 85 hectares of land next to its new wastewater reservoirs at Daleton Farm.

The sale and purchase agreement is expected to be finalised next March, when CDC will consult with the public on options for the site and the possible impact on rates.

The statement from CDC said the price for the land will be confidential until then.

CDC chief executive Geoff Hamilton hopes clarity from the new government will inform the purchase.

“We hope to get more clarity around the affordable waters reforms before March so we can give an indication on how we plan to fund this purchase and the extent it will impact ratepayers,” he said.

A statement from CDC noted the government’s affordable waters reform programme in its current state proposes significant changes to the ownership and operations of three waters assets.

“However, with a change in government, it is unclear whether the reforms will take place as currently proposed,” the statement said.

The community will be consulted about options for use of the land as part of next year’s long-term planning process.

One of the keys to stopping treated wastewater from going into the district’s Mangatārere Stream is land-based irrigation, and acquiring more land could facilitate this.

CDC has bought the extra land on Matarawa Rd near its other reservoirs. The statement said it was a rare opportunity to improve wastewater service.

Hamilton said the council needed to act quickly.

“The purchase of this land provides council with the option to discharge to an additional 85 hectares – an area big enough to fulfil our strategy during the consented irrigation window,” he said.

“This purchase provides council and our community with options.

“It’s important to note that the purchase does not commit us to expanding the land-based discharge strategy, merely provides us with options. We will be seeking community input on whether further expansion should occur, outlining the costs and benefits of doing so.”

CDC finished building new wastewater reservoirs in July.

It has increased the amount of treated wastewater discharged to land in recent years.

In 2022 more than 20 per cent of treated wastewater was discharged to land, compared with 5 per cent in 2015.

Work will begin immediately on developing options for the land. CDC will lease the land back to its current owners until public consultation finishes.

In January 2018 Greater Wellington Regional Council approved a 35-year resource consent to undertake land-based discharge of treated wastewater onto land at Dalefield Rd. – NZLDR

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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