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Wastewater committee backs urge to disinfect

Recommendations to bring forward the disinfection process for the city’s wastewater system and remove mortuary waste have been endorsed by the District Council’s wastewater management committee.

The recommendations were contained in a report from the consent review group, one of three presented to the committee.

It will go before the council at its meeting on November 15, along with one from an independent review panel and an internal review of whether the council is compliant with the terms of its wastewater consent. The other two reports are at the draft stage.

The consent review group’s report opposes a variation to the discharge consent, says the LTP plan timing for disinfection of 2023/24 for disinfection is unacceptable, wants alternative use and disposal investigations to continue and for the waste to be removed.

Shannon Dowsing said the committee had always been for the furthering of the wastewater project as fast as possible and the best possible outcome.

The consent review group’s report said they did not think the current approach would meet the consent standards.

“We did not think that to begin with,” he said.

“The only way forward is for the council to send this paper as a whole and make a decision to move faster,” said Mr Dowsing.

Ronald Nepe said the report supported what the committee had been saying. He urged them to make a recommendation to have mortuary water removed. They should give some mandate to start progressing as quickly as possible.

Pene Brown said things brought up in the reports made him wonder about the committee’s future.

Council lifelines director David Wilson said staff would bring a paper back to the next committee meeting on mortuary waste.

Some of the things in the report were outside the mandate of the staff, so they were being taken to the council to get direction on where they were to go.

Mr Dowsing said he had no problem in moving a motion for the mortuary waste to be removed. That recommendation and the one moving the programme forward could go to the council, with a recommendation from the committee.

Larry Foster said chickens were coming home to roost. There had been variations to the wastewater consent since 2014 and now two bodies were saying it was time to move forward.

It was up to the council to come up with some budgeting and financial criteria to figure out how this could be done.

Mr Wilson said it was not the staff’s role to convince the council.

Their role was to present the facts and advice.

This was not just about finance, although that was a very large component. It was also about the timeframes for getting everything that needed to happen in order.

That was quite a complex piece of work. The team was working hard to make sure they had the tightest time frames possible for what was actually feasible.

Mr Dowsing said the committee should recommend to the council that disinfection, clarification and UV treatment of wastewater should be moved forward as quickly as possible.

Amber Dunn said for her this was about a priority for the city. This was probably the only community in the country where a significant piece of infrastructure for human health purposes had experienced so many variations and delays.

“It is actually getting quite embarrassing. We have got to the point where we need to say this has got to be done.

“We are talking about essential infrastructure for our city. This is about human health. We have got to do it,” she said.

The committee carried a resolution endorsing the consent review group’s recommendations.