A proposal to dump a million litres of sludge per day into Cook Strait isn't a good idea, writes Kāpiti's Greater Wellington Regional Council representative Penny Gaylor.

Part of the new way of doing business during lockdown is that my meetings with community, staff and colleagues are mostly being done on the Zoom app, and the others by phone.

It's actually working quite well.

However, like everybody it is still second best to meeting in person to discuss issues and share viewpoints.

Penny Gaylor working from home during lockdown.
Penny Gaylor working from home during lockdown.

I note with interest reading in the media this week the viewpoint of a newly elected Wellington City councillor who is proposing that a million litres a day of Wellington city sludge from Moa Point be pumped in to the Cook Strait instead of going in to the Wellington landfill.

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I kid you not!

Over summer the pipe that moves the sludge from Moa Point to the landfill failed, it is being repaired, but is now experiencing delays because of the lockdown.

The Government has moved swiftly though to accommodate the need for international specialists to work on the fix.

Wellington City Council owns the assets, but the standards for using the pipe network fall under the parameters of the consents given by Greater Wellington Regional Council, eg environmental impacts.

The WCC councillor, and some of his WCC colleagues, have a view that in the context of Covid-19 the cost of trucking the sludge to the landfill triggers the emergency clause.

I guess they see the financial considerations trump the environmental and cultural imperatives.

I oppose this for about a million reasons.

But I'll temper my response with the considered wording of the response from my colleague the chair of Wellington Regional Council, Cr Daran Ponter.

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"The regional council does not play favourites when it comes to resource consenting.

"There is no free pass for the city council here."

"The city council's resource consent allows for the discharge of sewage to the Cook Strait in instances of emergency.

"There is no emergency here.

"The city council has a perfectly good workaround involving trucking sewage sludge to the landfill.

"I acknowledge that this is costly and that the lockdown is contributing to delays, but this does not warrant reaching for the 'release valve'.

"Thanks to support from Paul Eagle MP for Rongotai, the Government last week approved an international crew to come into the country, under strict quarantine supervision, to reline the pipes.

"I am confident that Wellington Water have this in hand.

"The regional council continues to work closely with Wellington Water and the city council on a range of issues that have occurred over the summer months."