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Speedy sewage peeves Papawai

Wellington Water says relief for Featherston and Papawai residents is on the horizon, with upgrades to the Donald St pump station beginning in the 22/23 financial year. PHOTO/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

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Overwhelmed and overflowing wastewater networks are an all-too-frequent reality for Featherston, with sewage bubbling up on private properties and flowing in the streets after each deluge in the region.

However, a recent Greytown Community Board [GCB] meeting revealed that Featherston’s problem was being kicked about 15km east down the road to Papawai.

Papawai residents say during storms, sewer trucks carrying waste from Featherston to the Greytown plant travel at 100kmh at all hours of the day and night. PHOTO/MARY ARGUE

GCB committee member Simone Baker said residents had repeatedly raised concerns about sewage trucks speeding down Papawai Rd.

Baker said during storms, Papawai residents were subjected to the continuous delivery of excess Featherston wastewater to the Greytown treatment plant.

She said that after a deluge earlier this month, residents had approached her again about numerous trucks travelling 100kmh in a 50kmh zone “at all hours of the night”.

Baker said the delivery scheme was an unsatisfactory answer to Featherston’s broken wastewater treatment system and sought a long-term solution from South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC].

She said the most recent response from SWDC partnership and operations manager Stefan Corbett was similar to the response she received when raising the issue in February after ex-Cyclone Dovi.

Corbett said during periods of heavy rain in Featherston, the overwhelmed wastewater network caused “sewer overflows onto public and private property”.

He said to minimise the impact on Featherston residents, “sucker trucks” would offload wastewater directly to the Greytown plant.

“They operate at all times of the day and night because the priority is to fix the problem for residents urgently.”

Baker said she had replied to Corbett requesting a more “solution-focused response”, questioning why trucks had to travel at high speeds and what would happen when Greytown did not have the capacity.

She said she was still waiting for an answer from the council.

Councillor Alistair Plimmer said the stormwater influx into the Featherston Wastewater Treatment Plant was excessive, and the plant treated three times as much as it could.

He said it was an infrastructure problem that needed a long-term fix, and offloading to Greytown would be “ongoing for the foreseeable future”.

“Right now, there is no alternative. But there is no excuse for speeding. Certainly, we can look into that.”

A joint response from the council and Wellington Water [WW] said they were unaware of previous speeding complaints on Papawai Rd, but the health and safety of residents and drivers were paramount.

Corbett said the council was keen to keep water treatment plant traffic to a minimum.

“However, particularly in extreme weather conditions, it is very important that Wellington Water’s trucks have access to the plant.”

WW said it would warn its drivers of the importance of driving within the speed limit and with caution.

It said relief for Featherston’s wastewater system was on the horizon, with an upgrade to the Donald St pump station due to begin in the next financial year.

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