Masterton overflowing sewage woes to be fixed by Christmas

1:55 pm on 29 November 2023
Human waste regularly flooded gardens in Masterton's Cockburn St during and after heavy rain.

Human waste regularly flooded gardens in Masterton's Cockburn St during and after heavy rain. Photo: Supplied / LDR

After years of wastewater flooding Masterton residents' homes during heavy rain, a solution is finally in sight.

A Masterton District Council [MDC] spokesperson confirmed 21 properties were being offered fixes, on a property-by-property basis. The remedial work is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

Wastewater has poured onto affected properties during storms, which have needed temporary portaloos when their own toilets become unusable. One resident this year said she suspected faeces had even found its way into her kitchen sink.

The flooding problem had existed for some time but appeared to have worsened over the past two years.

In addition to fixes underway, MDC last week assigned an independent expert review of the work and plans.

An affected resident welcomed the council's progress. Faith Traill said work at her property was due to be completed on 29 November.

Traill and her family previously struggled with wastewater overflowing in heavy rain, leaving toilet paper and human waste floating in their yard.

She praised MDC and the staff who installed the fix.

"They've replaced the pipe from the road to the house and put in the ability to have a one-way valve," she said.

"We are very happy with where it's at. They have done what they said they were going to do."

Traill said the work had taken about a month, and council staff had explained why the flooding was happening.

"Now we have that understanding that's really helpful. Time will tell," she said.

MDC councillor Tim Nelson had advocated for a fix and said the work was a good start to addressing long-term infrastructure issues.

"Although it has been extremely disappointing to see the way in which households impacted by the wastewater issues have been neglected for so long, in some cases many years, at least now action is being taken," he said.

"As a councillor and advocate for these households, I will continue to hold council staff to account, and to ensure that appropriate measures are put in place."

Recently appointed MDC chief executive Kym Fell prioritised fixing the issue.

"Our water team and contractors have worked hard to install solutions for those residents impacted during heavy rainfall events.

"We have treated this with urgency, and we expect to have the last of the work completed for impacted residents of Cockburn Street and Colombo Road before Christmas," he said.

Fell welcomed the independent engineering assessment, which he said was expected to advise if more could be done to mitigate the flooding issues, while the council's longer-term programme of wastewater renewal was underway.

MDC acting manager assets and operations Phil Evans said independent engineering advice would address the sewage overflows, specifically in relation to residential properties in the Cockburn Street and Colombo Road area.

It would also review the MDC work to date and the underlying problem, confirm if actions to date were reasonable, advise what more could be done, and provide cost benefit options.

GHD, a muti-disciplinary consulting firm, had been contracted for the review, with reporting expected early next year.

Evans confirmed 21 residential properties had been offered the installation of reflux valves and, in 13 cases, a wastewater tank.

A non-return valve, also known as a check valve or retention valve, is designed to allow fluid to flow in one direction only, preventing liquid from flowing back upstream of the valve.

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