Wastewater project 'an absolute disaster'

By Don Farmer, Emily Norman don farmer@age co nz -
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Councillor David Holmes regrets any involvement in the Homebush project.PHOTO/FILE
Councillor David Holmes regrets any involvement in the Homebush project.PHOTO/FILE

Departing Masterton District councillor David Holmes has fired another salvo at the Homebush Wastewater Treatment plant.

At a full meeting of the council this week, and while chief executive Pim Borren's report was being discussed, Mr Holmes took the floor saying he wanted to refer to Homebush.

He said he was "ashamed" of being involved with the project and that it was "an absolute disaster".

Mr Holmes said he had recently gone over historic paperwork for the "irrigation scheme and wastewater" and that, prior to the decision being made to go ahead with the project, he had tried to convince the then council to have a engineer do a "diligence report".

"I was politely told to stuff off.

"I have to say I am ashamed to have been involved with the set-up here, it's an absolute disaster."

Mr Holmes said only this week he had been visited by a freshwater fisherman upset over the discharge of treated effluent into the Ruamahanga River "during medium flows".

"The man was up in arms about it and we will probably hear more of it.

"He said the smell and water discolouration was disgraceful at Wardells Bridge."

Mr Holmes said it had been such a hot summer in Masterton a lot of effluent had been stored in the ponds.

"There's a question about how well it's treated.

"The ponds are around 3m deep, but UV only works properly to 1.5m."

Mr Holmes, who is stepping down from his council role in October to seek a seat on the Greater Wellington Regional Council, said there had been no proper reports on the wastewater for six months and he wanted local people to be kept informed on what was happening.

Assets and operations manager David Hopman said: "I am reporting what's happening.

"You raised the question of the performance of the whole operation. These reports outline how it is performing.

"In the performance of the ponds, we are achieving all of our key conditions. So rest assured that the treatment is working well.

"The ponds were very full, especially during the heat of the summer, but as the results come through they have shown they are still functioning exactly as they are supposed to," he said.

Mr Hopman said irrigating to land was not happening just now "so there is an issue".

He said, regarding sludge, a process has been started with the community stakeholders.

"We have come to a conclusion on some proposals for sludge regeneration.

"We have just received information from further sampling results showing sludge that still remains is inert, that a planting solution will be viable.

"Greater Wellington Regional Council has agreed with us on that, so they don't have an issue with us working towards a stabilisation approach. We're about to have a meeting with the community on that very issue. So, rest assured, we are engaging the locals on our planting proposal," he said.

Mr Hopman agreed it had been a very hot summer "and we irrigated pretty hard, achieving all of our targets".

"There were no issues with the irrigation operation at Homebush."

Regarding soil and water sampling, Mr Hopman said results will be published in a consent monitoring report showing how the season had panned out.

"I don't know what else to say other than, let's look at the results in the public report which we will be assembling over the next month," he said.

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