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$4million harbour sewerage project under way

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Work has already begun on the next major project to combat storm related sewage spills into the Whangarei harbour.

There have been no storm related sewage discharges from the Okara Pumping Station since it was upgraded and a new pipe to the sewage treatment plant was installed in June 2010, and none from the Hatea Treatment Plant since it opened in April.

Because the Okara Pumping Station is now capturing much more wastewater and pumping it to the Kioreroa Road Wastewater Treatment Plant, the plant is undergoing a $4 million upgrade to enable it to process the extra wastewater to a high degree.

At the moment it can fully treat 30,000 cubic metres of wastewater a day, by the end of July it will be able to process 50,000 cubic metres, and by this time next year the quantity it can treat will increase to a total 125,000 cubic metres.

This will significantly improve the quality of the final treated effluent released by the plant during heavy storms.

This project builds on the $58 million that has been spent to address storm related sewage spills in the Whangarei District in the last 5 years. It is part of the $32 million budgeted to address wet weather spills in the next 10 years. The entire budget for capital works for wastewater over the District in the next 10 years is $118 million.

Waste and Drainage Manager Andrew Carvell said a major project is also under way in the Bream Bay area to upgrade the sewerage system to meet predicted growth rates.

"We are also working with the Northland Regional Council and others to tackle wider harbour pollution issues. People often point the finger at sewage spills in relation to harbour pollution but there are a wide variety of factors at play.

"We always encourage people to think about what they put down the sink or in the toilet, because spills are often caused by blockages (rather than wet weather). Fat, sanitary products, tree roots and all sorts of things contribute to blocked pipes, causing the sewage to back up and spill. On one occasion we found a tricycle had been dropped into a manhole," Mr Carvell said.

"We also emphasise the need to report any suspected blockages, pipe breaks or leaks. It is much better from an environmental, public health and cost point of view if we investigate early and find there is no problem, than when we are called late to a major problem that could have been solved earlier.

"Finally, we urge everyone to double check that stormwater from their property is going into the stormwater system, not into the sewage system. We have recently inspected about 1,200 houses in Tikipunga and found about 20 problems that needed remedying. We are always happy to talk people through solutions to these problems."

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