Irrigation idea for wastewater

Report for chamber signals positives for region on several fronts.

Report for chamber signals positives for region on several fronts.

NEW LINE-UP: Gisborne Chamber of Commerce’s new executive board elected last week. Chief executive Terry Sheldrake, board member Adam Hughes, vice-president Jeremy Muir, president Paul Naske, with board members Nikki Archdale, Belinda Mackay, Diane Taylor, John Hockey, and office manager Lena Bevan. Picture by Ray Sheldrake

Using treated sewage to irrigate prime food-producing areas here could have major economic and environmental benefits, a new study indicates.

A report for the Gisborne Chamber of Commerce, funded by Gisborne’s economic development agency Activate Tairawhiti, found using treated wastewater could boost employment.

The wastewater, which would need to be further treated before it was used for irrigation, could also help establish higher value crops, which would require greater levels of employment to manage the crops.

It could also reduce fertiliser requirement because of the higher nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the water.

“The higher value permanent crops provide additional farm gate profit of around $57,000 per hectare when compared with low value annual crops such as maize and squash,” the report said.

In addition, the availability of water would provide a buffer to any dry period, and increase land values.

Using treated water would also reduce the amount of waste water being pumped into the sea.

“The Gisborne District Council (GDC) currently pumps on average approximately 13,000m3 of wastewater daily into Poverty Bay despite iwi opposition and successive directions from the environment court.

“Annually this amounts to five times the amount of water that is currently drawn from the Makauri aquifer and would be sufficient to irrigate many hectares of land over the drier months.”

The report was presented to members at the chamber’s annual meeting last week.

“The presentation was very well received by those present,” chamber chief executive Terry Sheldrake said.

“Our chamber presentation was about considering the longer term.

“The big word of the day around all of this is perception.”

Gisborne District Council staff have seen the report, which would be presented to councillors for discussion at the council’s next wastewater management committee meeting.

GDC community lifelines director David Wilson said the council supported any initiative that looked to better use the region’s water.

Using treated sewage to irrigate prime food-producing areas here could have major economic and environmental benefits, a new study indicates.

A report for the Gisborne Chamber of Commerce, funded by Gisborne’s economic development agency Activate Tairawhiti, found using treated wastewater could boost employment.

The wastewater, which would need to be further treated before it was used for irrigation, could also help establish higher value crops, which would require greater levels of employment to manage the crops.

It could also reduce fertiliser requirement because of the higher nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the water.

“The higher value permanent crops provide additional farm gate profit of around $57,000 per hectare when compared with low value annual crops such as maize and squash,” the report said.

In addition, the availability of water would provide a buffer to any dry period, and increase land values.

Using treated water would also reduce the amount of waste water being pumped into the sea.

“The Gisborne District Council (GDC) currently pumps on average approximately 13,000m3 of wastewater daily into Poverty Bay despite iwi opposition and successive directions from the environment court.

“Annually this amounts to five times the amount of water that is currently drawn from the Makauri aquifer and would be sufficient to irrigate many hectares of land over the drier months.”

The report was presented to members at the chamber’s annual meeting last week.

“The presentation was very well received by those present,” chamber chief executive Terry Sheldrake said.

“Our chamber presentation was about considering the longer term.

“The big word of the day around all of this is perception.”

Gisborne District Council staff have seen the report, which would be presented to councillors for discussion at the council’s next wastewater management committee meeting.

GDC community lifelines director David Wilson said the council supported any initiative that looked to better use the region’s water.

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