Wanganui District Council has been issued with a significant non compliance notice after failing to meet resource consent conditions around the discharge from its wastewater treatment plant. The notice was issued by Horizons Regional Council following an annual monitoring report from the district council showing that the level of bacteria in its discharge off the coast of South Beach exceeds consent requirements.
The monitoring report, which is a requirement of the District Council’s consent, shows the bacteria levels in the discharge have been increasing since September 2011. Wanganui District Council believes the problem is being caused the active bacteria in the ponds not being able to breakdown the bacteria effectively as the ponds have built up with waste.
Horizons acting group manager planning and regulatory Craig Grant said the regional council is undertaking further investigations to determine the extent of the issue and whether any further action is warranted. The two councils are also working together to determine the extent of the effects and determine a plan to help Wanganui to achieve compliance.
"Senior management from both councils have met and are treating the matter with urgency. As well as undertaking an investigation as to what has gone on, it is also a priority to ensure the council’s discharge becomes compliant ," said Mr Grant. One of these initial steps taken by the district council will be a technique known as bio augmentation to boost the bacteria’s ability to break down waste. If this is unsuccessful, Mr Grant said the council will need to look at alternative measures.
A permanent exclusion zone already exists around the coastal discharge and there is not believed to be a risk to public health. However, Wanganui District Council is increasing water quality testing with results expected on Tuesday 16 October. Previous monitoring has not shown any caused for public health concerns.
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