27 Nov 2008

Sewage spills defended in Whangarei

10:00 am on 27 November 2008

Whangarei District Council is defending its record on sewage discharges into Whangarei harbour.

The council has applied for a five-year extension of a permit that allows sewage overflows into the upper harbour in emergencies.

But tangata whenua and harbour community groups say the council has done little to upgrade the sewerage system since it was granted a discharge permit 12 years ago.

They say they've had enough: shellfish beds are closed for a month after every discharge, swimming is unsafe and people are ill with gastric or skin infections.

However, deputy mayor Kahu Sutherland says the discharges are occasional and greatly diluted by stormwater. He says the objectors are being unrealistic.

Mr Sutherland says the district council is gradually upgrading the system.