23 Jan 2015

No prosecution over Tukituki River pollution

12:26 pm on 23 January 2015

Recreational river users in Hawke's Bay are outraged the regional council will not prosecute a district council for discharging pollutants into the Tukituki River.

Tukituki River

Tukituki River Photo: Phillip Capper / WikiCommons

The Central Hawke's Bay District Council's new wastewater plants have failed to meet the conditions of a new resource consent six times since it came into force in October.

The regional council's chief executive Liz Lambert said it was drawing up an abatement notice, but her council did not think punishing the district council was appropriate.

"We believe that any financial punishment really doesn't help the ratepayer.

"We'd rather see the money go towards the right outcome."

Hawkes' Bay council's chief executive John Freeman said they designed the plants to meet the Regional Council's standards but they had run into issues with the chemical filtration process.

He said once new filters were in place, the plants would pass consent standards every time.

Spokesperson for the group Friends of the Tukituki, Simon Lusk, said the district council had 10 years to put a new sewage treatment plan in place, and the regional council was failing in its statutory duty.

"They should prosecute and if they don't we're looking at private prosecutions against the councillors of CHB and also the Hawke's Bay Regional Council staff who are failing to uphold their statutory obligations."

Mr Lusk said the pollution flowing into the Tukituki River from the sewage plant was an absolute disgrace.

Labour's water spokesperson Meka Whaitiri questioned the regional council's ability to enforce any resource consents granted for the Ruataniwha Dam, after it declined to prosecute.

She said the council was not doing its job.

"If we can't get a waster water issue sorted out within 10 years what faith have we got in them doing the right things to ensure that this proposed dam is going to meet environmental standards."

Ms Whaitiri said another body should be overseeing the activity of the regional council which was both a developer and regulator.

Just one of many

A freshwater ecologist said the faulty wastewater treatment plant in Central Hawke's Bay was just one of many around the country that were polluting our waterways.

Massey University freshwater ecologist Mike Joy said having waste water systems that discharged into rivers was unwise.

He said councils had to add aluminium to the wastewater to extract phosphorous and then this toxic sediment has to be put into a landfill.

Mr Joy said a better system would be to discharge the wastewater containing phosphorous to land so it could be used to fertilise crops or trees.

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