Hawke's Bay Council faces sewage campaign

By Lawrence Gullery

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Central Hawke's Bay District Council is facing legal action from two lobby groups and their "multi-millionaire friends in Havelock North" demanding changes on the way the council discharges sewage into the Tukituki and Waipawa rivers.

Friends of the Tukituki and Hawke's Bay Environmental Water Group said they wanted the council to show how it was going to meet its resource consent conditions set by the Hawke's Bay Regional Council, which required upgrades to wastewater treatment discharge points at Waipawa and Waipukurau.

Spokesman John Scott said in 2008, the Environment Court ruled discharges into the rivers must stop by September 30, 2014, when the council was expected to bring an updated treatment plant online.

"Since the court case in 2008 the Hawke's Bay Regional Council has attempted to help the Central Hawkes Bay District Council to comply with these consents," Mr Scott said.

"The district council has taken limited tangible steps to comply with these consents, including rejecting the partially funded and partially developed solution provided by the regional council," he said.

Mr Scott said Friends of Tukituki had worked with the councils since 2004, but was disappointed no option for sewage treatment had been finalised.

"Therefore we have informed the district council that our groups will be undertaking a political and legal campaign to ensure they adhere to what we assumed in 2008 to be legally binding consents.

"We would prefer not to be forced to take this action, but after eight years we feel it is our last remaining option."

A proposed wastewater management scheme for Waipukurau and Waipawa, in conjunction with the regional council, was stopped in mid-March when new cost estimates put its price at $11.5 million - a jump from previous estimates of $8.5 million. Instead of a land discharge scheme, the district council was now considering a BioFiltro system that uses worm farms to treat the sewage.

Central Hawke's Bay mayor Peter Butler said the council wanted to take more time to make sure it had the best deal for its ratepayers.

He said the council was on track to meet the 2014 deadline but it would wait until it had public feedback through its long-term plan before making a decision.

"I am at a loss to understand why Mr Scott is going on about a political and legal campaign to get us to adhere to conditions that we fully intend to meet," Mr Butler said.

He said Mr Scott and supporter Simon Lusk had made a submission to the council's long-term plan hearing earlier this week, asking for action on the wastewater treatment issue.

"It was disappointing to have John Scott and Simon Lusk come and threaten council and the ratepayers of Central Hawke's Bay ... with legal action by their multi-millionaire friends in Havelock North, when what we are doing is preventing unnecessary rate rises while looking after the Waipawa and Tukituki rivers by meeting our 2014 consent requirements," Mr Butler said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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