29 Jan 2019

Outdated infrastructure cited as reason for sewage spill in New Plymouth

12:08 pm on 29 January 2019

The New Plymouth mayor has cited ageing infrastructure as a reason for a sewage spill that killed dozens of fish and eels.

New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom.

New Plymouth Mayor Neil Holdom Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Mayor Neil Holdom told Morning Report the problem was related to infrastructure that needed to be updated and the council had earmarked more money to improve it.

"Systems that were designed you know 20, 30, 40 years ago to meet the standards of the day aren't capable of meeting expectations today," he said.

Mr Holdom said the spillage situation was a disaster for the local community.

Residents of Bell Block in New Plymouth discovered the Mangati Stream ran white after a sewage spill last week because of a problem at the pumping station.

More than 20 dead fish and eels were found.

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Erin Sowman, 8, her mother Kim Sowman and Luke Sowman, 11. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Kim Sowman said her 11-year-old son Luke returned home last week distraught after going to feed eels in the stream only to discover the dead creatures.

"All the rocks were a black colour and the colour of the water just doesn't seem right - it doesn't look healthy," she said.

Taranaki Regional Council said it responded to a significant discharge from a New Plymouth District Council sewage pumping station last week.

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Glen Skipper Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Glen Skipper is on the board of the Ngāti Tawhirikura hāpu and a member of Puketapu hāpu, which share a common border at the Mangati Stream.

He said spillages were a common occurrence.

"We're getting regular notifications from the regional council and the local council around spillages - contamination events ... the whole stream turning white - dead eels and fishes ... it is 2019 ... it is just crazy," he said.

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