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Water problems continue in south

The Ruamahanga River at Martinborough. PHOTO/FILE

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Investigations are ongoing after an estimated 90,000 litres of partially treated wastewater leaked into the Ruamahanga River in Martinborough.

It’s the latest water problem to beset the South Wairarapa town.

The equivalent of three rainwater tanks-worth of wastewater spilled into the waterway from the town’s water treatment plant in a 12-hour period overnight Tuesday.

Another 45,000 litres of wastewater discharged to land next to the treatment plant, where treated wastewater is normally spread by irrigation. The leak has now been stopped.

Public health and recreational water user risk from the discharge was understood to be negligible, a spokesperson for Wellington Water said.

Discharging treated wastewater to the river is a consented activity under the right conditions, but in this case, the discharge was not in accordance with the consent.

The Land Air Water Aotearoa [Lawa] website advised against swimming in the river on Wednesday.

It reduced the warning to its amber “caution advised” rating at midday Thursday.

The Lawa site is updated on a regular basis according to readings from the water.

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen said until the definitive cause of the discharge was established, the council could not discuss how to ensure this never happened again.

“However, it is reassuring that the event was immediately discovered and reported to [council], and remedial action taken.

“This increases our confidence that breaches in consents are not being hidden from the public, and there is a responsible organisation regulating our water infrastructure.”

WW said they had started a full incident response and investigation into the spill.

The leak is separate to 2019’s drinking water issues in the town but continues a run of misfortune.

Residents of Pirinoa, a township within Martinborough’s ward boundaries, remain on a boil water notice after an equipment fault late last year.

This was the latest problem with the drinking water, which began with the first E.coli notice for the town’s supply almost a year ago.


  1. I know it costs big money to set up a new water system but thousands of litres of wastewater could be purified and recycled as farm irrigation and drinking water.

  2. All homestays should have signs up..do not drink or swim in the water..
    Also provide water for people staying.

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