A remedial plan for Martinborough’s wastewater treatment plant means an abatement notice issued last year has been lifted, but restrictions remain while work is carried out.
South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] and Wellington Water Ltd [WWL] have collaborated on developing an action plan to address the problems with the plant.
Initially, while issues at the treatment plant are addressed, new wastewater connections will remain on pause, but restrictions are expected to be progressively removed as remedial work is successfully completed.
A statement from SWDC said new wastewater connections had been suspended earlier this year following receipt of an abatement notice from Greater Wellington Regional Council [GWRC]. That abatement notice has now been lifted after agreement with GWRC on a corrective plan.
“A lower-level abatement notice has been issued that requires the council to address the immediate non-compliances related to the plant. This means the plant remains non-compliant and further connections remain on pause,” the statement said.
Stefan Corbett, SWDC group manager partnerships and operations, said restrictions are expected to be lifted in consultation with the council’s regulatory partners as the work is done.
“The three abatement notices will be removed as each ‘package’ of work is completed to a level acceptable to our regulator, Greater Wellington,” he said.
“WWL and SWDC will determine at which point further connections can be allowed after considering the compliance status with the regulator.”
Corbett said the community can have confidence in the agreed plan.
“The impact on our community does not change, but they should have confidence that we have a funded plan including a timeline approved by the regulator to take us closer to lifting the suspension of connections. No new connections can be accommodated until these three abatement notices are removed following council’s actions related to the three new packages of work, and all three parties have consulted.”
In May, SWDC said applications for all new wastewater connections in Martinborough were on hold because the town’s wastewater plant failed to meet performance and compliance standards. An abatement notice from GWRC prohibited unauthorised discharges and required a proposal to bring the plant into compliance.
SWDC and WWL have now developed a corrective action and contingency plan.
“We are pleased to advise this corrective action plan has been accepted by Greater Wellington. As a result, Greater Wellington has lifted the abatement notice. A lower-level abatement notice has been issued that requires the council to address the immediate non-compliances related to the plant,” the statement said.
“This means the plant remains non-compliant and further connections remain on pause. “
Between now and August next year, three separate packages of work are planned; desludging work, additional monitoring of wastewater to inform future upgrades, and investigation and optimisation of the ultraviolet disinfection equipment.
Mayor Martin Connelly is pleased with the progress so far and looks forward to follow-up action now the original notice has been lifted.
“I am delighted to see that we have kept to our word and addressed the abatement notice and are making good progress. District growth is an important part of our plans, which is why getting Martinborough’s treatment plant fully compliant again is a priority,” he said.
“The lower-level abatement notice is the result of a lot of hard work by council staff and WWL.”
Interim chief executive Paul Gardner agreed.
“The fact that the abatement notice has been lifted is good news, and reflects a high level of trust in SWDC to address the issues,” he said.
Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air