22 Aug 2019

Application to spill wastewater into waterways will avoid costly prosecutions - Council

6:28 pm on 22 August 2019

Queenstown Lakes District Council is defending a controversial application to [https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/392335/queenstown-lakes-district-council-applies-for-consents-for-wastewater-overflows

spill wastewater into the district's waterways].

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Photo: 123RF

Spokesperson Peter Hansby said the application, publicly notified in June, wasn't about getting permission to pollute and was in "no way a lessening of the council's standards".

Instead, he said it was for occasional overflow events that were already happening because of blockages and broken pipes - which have been resulting in costly prosecutions by the Otago Regional Council [ORC], at the expense of ratepayers.

"Each discharge can cost ratepayers in the order of $25,000-$40,000 in fines and this is money we would rather invest into the network. Plus our ratepayers pay twice because ORC has costs as well," he said.

Mr Hansby said the council was focussed on improving wastewater management to reduce the number of spills and education to further reduce the risk of overflow events.

It will be able to do more of that if the application is granted, he said, rather than paying fines because the discharges are unauthorised.

"The scale of our $105 million investment into wastewater systems for the district should reassure residents that we are taking the management of wastewater very seriously," he said.

He said the council was pleased to see the application had generated widespread feedback, and that the community was keen to be involved.

"We are now within a consenting process, which is progressing to a hearing and we will await the outcome before we discuss next steps, which will be based on that outcome. In any case the council will continue with its very strong programme to improve the resilience and capacity of our network's as the community grows and develops," he said.