Wastewater overflow on Saturday contained, removed

Concerns continue about management of pump station in heavy rain.

Concerns continue about management of pump station in heavy rain.

AN upgrade of the Steele Road pump station responsible for a large overflow of wastewater into the Wainui Stream a year ago should be brought forward, says the District Council’s Future Tairawhiti committee.

Councillors were discussing a recommendation from water utilities manager Neville West that they approve unbudgeted expenditure of $415,000 for emergency storage at the pump station.

This morning the council announced there had been another overflow into the stream on Saturday, this time caused by a build-up of fat in wastewater pipes near Worsley Street. The pressure forced the manhole open at the Steele Road pump station, leading to a small overflow into the stream.

Mr West told the committee an uncontrolled overflow pipe was discovered after the event in March 2015 in which 450,000 litres of wastewater was discharged into the stream. This was likely to have happened during rain before the council’s knowledge.

Now that the pipe had been sealed, there were concerns about the management of wastewater at the pump station in heavy rain.

The committee adopted a resolution that the chief executive undertake the necessary emergency action to resolve the issues at the Steele Road pump station and formalise the budgetary process through the council at the next opportunity.

Chief executive Judy Campbell said this would be better than having to wait a couple of months to have it debated.

“I think we would have significant blowback from the community,” she said.

“This problem has been in existence for some time but Neville West and I only became aware of it a week or so ago.”

Where would the money come from?

Brian Wilson said he was quite happy with the recommendations but $415,000 was a lot of money. They were undertaking to keep it within the budget but it was easy to say that. It would have to be taken out of somewhere else. The council really needed to know where that money was going to come from.

Mrs Campbell said they were suggesting it would be loan-funded and therefore the interest would have a minimal impact on the rates.

Graeme Thomson asked if it would be possible to use $25,000, that was the council’s share of a fine imposed on it and the contractor for the discharge into the stream, towards the cost of the bringing forward the pump station upgrade.

Mrs Campbell said she was happy to do this but it was only part of the cost. Mr Thomson said this was unbudgeted money and it was actually helping to solve the problem.

Pat Seymour did not think that was fair to the Wainui community, which was struggling to come up with ideas on how to use the money from the fine.

Mr West said the bulk of the odour from the stream was organic matter and not caused by the wastewater.

Amber Dunn said upgrading the pump station would not solve the general wastewater discharge problem. It added weight to the need for the wastewater reduction programme.

Taking the pressure off the pump station would reduce the discharge but it was only a band aid for the bigger problem.

Emergency storage

Mr West said it was best practice to have emergency storage in sensitive areas.

District Council shared services science manager Lois Easton says there was an excellent response to the overflow on Saturday morning.

The sewage was contained and a sucker truck brought in to remove the wastewater.

The council’s utilities team also pumped clean water into the stream to reduce any adverse effect on tuna (eels) and fish in the stream.

The defective manhole had been sealed off completely last year after wastewater was found overflowing into the stream. The latest incident was a genuine emergency and unable to be prevented, she said.

The water in the stream was always very poor quality and not safe for swimming nor for stock drinking water.

“It has been like this for a long time,” says Ms Easton.

As an urban stream, it received run-off from roads and residential properties as well as some rural areas. There was also potential for contaminated stormwater from properties.

The stream had a very low summer flow, meaning that these things could concentrate in the water.

AN upgrade of the Steele Road pump station responsible for a large overflow of wastewater into the Wainui Stream a year ago should be brought forward, says the District Council’s Future Tairawhiti committee.

Councillors were discussing a recommendation from water utilities manager Neville West that they approve unbudgeted expenditure of $415,000 for emergency storage at the pump station.

This morning the council announced there had been another overflow into the stream on Saturday, this time caused by a build-up of fat in wastewater pipes near Worsley Street. The pressure forced the manhole open at the Steele Road pump station, leading to a small overflow into the stream.

Mr West told the committee an uncontrolled overflow pipe was discovered after the event in March 2015 in which 450,000 litres of wastewater was discharged into the stream. This was likely to have happened during rain before the council’s knowledge.

Now that the pipe had been sealed, there were concerns about the management of wastewater at the pump station in heavy rain.

The committee adopted a resolution that the chief executive undertake the necessary emergency action to resolve the issues at the Steele Road pump station and formalise the budgetary process through the council at the next opportunity.

Chief executive Judy Campbell said this would be better than having to wait a couple of months to have it debated.

“I think we would have significant blowback from the community,” she said.

“This problem has been in existence for some time but Neville West and I only became aware of it a week or so ago.”

Where would the money come from?

Brian Wilson said he was quite happy with the recommendations but $415,000 was a lot of money. They were undertaking to keep it within the budget but it was easy to say that. It would have to be taken out of somewhere else. The council really needed to know where that money was going to come from.

Mrs Campbell said they were suggesting it would be loan-funded and therefore the interest would have a minimal impact on the rates.

Graeme Thomson asked if it would be possible to use $25,000, that was the council’s share of a fine imposed on it and the contractor for the discharge into the stream, towards the cost of the bringing forward the pump station upgrade.

Mrs Campbell said she was happy to do this but it was only part of the cost. Mr Thomson said this was unbudgeted money and it was actually helping to solve the problem.

Pat Seymour did not think that was fair to the Wainui community, which was struggling to come up with ideas on how to use the money from the fine.

Mr West said the bulk of the odour from the stream was organic matter and not caused by the wastewater.

Amber Dunn said upgrading the pump station would not solve the general wastewater discharge problem. It added weight to the need for the wastewater reduction programme.

Taking the pressure off the pump station would reduce the discharge but it was only a band aid for the bigger problem.

Emergency storage

Mr West said it was best practice to have emergency storage in sensitive areas.

District Council shared services science manager Lois Easton says there was an excellent response to the overflow on Saturday morning.

The sewage was contained and a sucker truck brought in to remove the wastewater.

The council’s utilities team also pumped clean water into the stream to reduce any adverse effect on tuna (eels) and fish in the stream.

The defective manhole had been sealed off completely last year after wastewater was found overflowing into the stream. The latest incident was a genuine emergency and unable to be prevented, she said.

The water in the stream was always very poor quality and not safe for swimming nor for stock drinking water.

“It has been like this for a long time,” says Ms Easton.

As an urban stream, it received run-off from roads and residential properties as well as some rural areas. There was also potential for contaminated stormwater from properties.

The stream had a very low summer flow, meaning that these things could concentrate in the water.

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