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Another water blunder

Martinborough’s wastewater treatment plant. PHOTO/SWDC


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Another equipment failure in South Wairarapa led to a public health alarm and more water worries for councillors on the eve of a crucial vote on the district’s future.

A valve failure at Martinborough’s wastewater treatment plant early yesterday morning led to the possible overflow of sewage from the storage ponds.

The inlet valve was subsequently closed by plant operators.

It is the third major lapse at the plant this year, after almost half a million litres of wastewater ran into the Ruamahanga River and its banks after human error during two faults in January.

Wellington Water, SWDC and local iwi are still in the process of arranging a restorative justice programme for the January mishaps.

Last month, a forestry contractor broke a pipe at nearby Lake Ferry’s treatment plant, causing an outage and forcing a temporary fix to restore service to residents.

The Lake Ferry fault threatened to pollute Wairarapa Moana, within weeks of an application for international Ramsar reserve status.

In a statement posted to social media, Wellington Water said it had found “no physical evidence of overflow to the Ruamahanga River”.

“However, we are reporting the incident as a precaution.

“In line with incident response plans, Wellington Water has initiated an investigation into the causes of the valve system failure at the plant.”

South Wairarapa councillors are set to meet today to discuss its $2.84 million dollar stimulus package over Three Waters reform.

The district has been blighted by water issues for some time.

Martinborough’s drinking water supply was the subject of two E.coli scares in 2019.

Featherston residents were subject to a boil water notice in June after its supply was cut off by bad weather.

Just last week, it was revealed that 55 per cent of South Wairarapa’s water was lost before reaching residents’ taps.

An OIA in June showed the figure was 38 per cent in Greytown.

SWDC councillors meet to discuss the Three Waters offer at 3.30 today at Martinborough’s Waihinga Centre.


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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