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Deluge brings sewage woes

Charles Page with the portable toilet at his Taranaki St home in Masterton. PHOTO/HAYLEY GASTMEIER


By Hayley Gastmeier

[email protected]

Masterton residents dealing with major sewage woes following last week’s storm have called for immediate action by the district council.

Raw sewage spilled onto Taranaki St and residents of 11 properties were unable to use their toilets as the sewerage system struggled to cope with the rain deluge.

The council says it is committed to fixing the issue, which had vastly improved since 2006 when severe weather left 100 households needed portable toilets.

On Wednesday night, portable toilets were delivered to Taranaki St, Kuripuni, and Second St, Lansdowne.

A resident on Taranaki St, who asked not to be named, said she had seen waste spilling up from the sewerage access point next to her property.

“It was literally coming up and bubbling out with toilet paper and sewage.

“This has happened twice since I have been here, and I have been here less than a year.

“The council needs to get on with getting us proper drainage and wastewater disposal.”

When the wild weather hit, she stopped using her dishwasher and shortened her showers to 30 seconds.

“Because we have had it happen before, I was being careful with the water, but with sewage you have to flush.”

The woman said new houses were being built on the street, which would only compound the issue.

Another of the street’s resident, Charles Page said ever since he and his wife had moved into their newly built house in 2010, they had been dealing with sewage disposal and drainage problems.

“Every winter we have had problems with drainage from our kitchen sink and toilet.”

The storm caused his toilet bowl to fill up, and his kitchen sink would not drain water at all, meaning the couple had to do their dishes in the laundry.

“The toilet filled up and you couldn’t do anything with it. It filled up, right to the top.”

Storm water had been getting into the sewer lines through old pipes, he said.

After a call to the council, his property was put on a list for a portable toilet, which he said he was grateful for.

“On Thursday morning I noticed that two neighbours also had green boxes parked outside which did not match their lovely new houses.”

Mr Page said it was a worry that the sewerage system could not cope.

“And it’s not even winter yet.”

MDC assets and operations manager David Hopman said this week’s storm was a one-in-10 year event.

“The three days of continuous rain meant that the network became overloaded in our vulnerable areas.”

He said MDC spends over $1million a year on network improvements “to prevent these issues occurring”.

The council had an “ongoing commitment” to continue its pipe renewal programme, Mr Hopman said.

“We are disappointed that a small number of properties have been affected in this way.

“It’s the first time since 2006 that this action has been necessary when there were more than 100 houses which had to rely on portaloos.”

He said the week’s weather had also caused slips on rural roads and localised flooding.

“Our policy is to keep our existing drainage system operating at its full capacity, but this event has identified one or two areas which may need upgrading.

“In general, our $83 million network stood up well compared to many other parts of the country, but we need to continue to invest in improving its resilience to minimise inconvenience to individual properties.”

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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