Hamilton City Council is offering a rare chance to see how the city treats the millions of litres of wastewater which flows from the toilets, bathrooms and laundries of our 160,000 residents every day.
The Pukete Treatment Plant is opening its doors to a limited number of visitors on Saturday, November 12 between 10am and 3.45pm.
The tours will take around 45 minutes with bookings essential through the council's website at hamilton.govt.nz/water.
City waters environmental adviser Sarah Whale said the tour is an opportunity for people to see the plant in action, to understand what we put into our wastewater system can affect the environment, and the complex organisms which underpin the operation of the plant itself.
"Tour guides will explain how the city deals with our wastewater, and visitors can follow the treatment process path from the intake where raw sewage enters the plant to the discharge and disposal of the treated liquid and solid outputs at the end of the process," said Sarah.
"At the end of the process they can see the transfer site from which biosolids are shipped to a specialised vermiculture plant for reuse in land remediation and forestry composting, and the way in which we ensure the final treated water is returned to the environment."
Hamilton's wastewater system has come a long way since 1925 when it was predominantly 14 community septic tanks.
These tanks previously discharged directly into the Waikato River and Waitawhiriwhiri Stream and were supported by a network of pipes and pump stations.
In the 1970s Hamilton's wastewater system was improved with the construction and commissioning of the Pukete Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The plant consisted of a screening plant, primary sedimentation and chlorine disinfection prior to discharge to the Waikato River.
In the past 40 years the plant has undergone several major upgrades, and now is capable of achieving high standards of treatment to meet resource management requirements, with the most recent upgrade being completed in 2014.
Because the plant is a functioning industrial site, there are some conditions on entry.
Sturdy, flat-soled and closed in shoes are required, and there is no eating, drinking or smoking during the tour.
There are narrow walkways and stairways, so the tours cannot accommodate people who are unable to meet the physical requirements, and young children, toddlers and strollers are not permitted.
For biosecurity and health and safety reasons visitors cannot take cellphones, umbrellas or bags on the tour, although raincoats are recommended in case of poor weather.