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Disinfect discharge now

In a blow to Gisborne District Council’s long-term plan, the group that monitors Gisborne city’s wastewater system now opposes the council’s schedule for upgrading the wastewater system and wants disinfection— timed for 2023/24 — to start immediately.

The Consent Review Group is opposing the variation to the resource consent sought by the council to allow the timetable in its 10-year long-term plan to be followed.

The council wants to amend the deadline for disinfection in the plan and potentially reduce the biological oxygen demand (BOD) loading on the biological treatment filter (BTF) plant.

But the review group opposes the consent variation, saying that tangata whenua, the medical officer of health and expert advisers from the Wastewater Technical Advisory Group (WTAG) strongly oppose any variation, and expect the council to deliver on the consent and associated timeframes agreed to in the past.

They say the long-term plan budget, which phases in disinfection in 2023/24, is unacceptable.

A consent variation is more likely to be supported if the council demonstrates significant commitment to completing the necessary upgrades to install disinfection, ideally immediately, the group says.

Alternative use and disposal (AUD)investigations need to continue, with a focus on the practical implementation of AUD, including uses for treated wastewater, they say. Alternative use would eventually see use of the marine pipeline into the bay stopped.

The review group wants mortuary waste to be removed from the domestic wastewater system. That is seen as an essential step in “restoring the mauri of Turanganui a Kiwa” and meeting aspirations of removal of human waste products from the ocean outfall.

In a column this week deputy mayor Rehette Stoltz said that could be accommodated relatively easily, through changes to the existing trade waste bylaw, at a relatively small cost (less than $100,000).

The review group says disinfection could start immediately without the need for a consent variation.

The review group has strongly recommended that the wastewater management options project team take the outcomes of the review to the council as soon as possible, to provide the council with an opportunity to reconsider its long-term plan budget in respect of disinfection.

It has asked that all costs, benefits and risks, including potential enforcement, of not bringing the budget forward are presented to the council to ensure it is aware of the repercussions if it chooses to remain with the LTP budget phasing and not commence disinfection.

The wastewater management options team will take a paper to the council’s meeting on November 15 to provide the council with information to enable a discussion on whether moving the timeframes forward is something the council would consider.

The wastewater management committee will meet tomorrow to consider the review group’s report.

It will also receive the report of an independent review panel, which was tasked to undertake reviews and make recommendations in accordance with the council’s consent.

A third report will be an internal consent compliance review prepared by council staff.

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