A $25-million-plus project to build a new sewage plant for Kerikeri is starting to take shape on the outskirts of town.

Main contractor Broadspectrum NZ started assembling the decant tank on Thursday using concrete panels pre-cast in Kerikeri by IES Construction.

The company is now casting panels for the sequencing batch reactor, the largest single component of the wastewater treatment plant, which will break down organic matter before it is transferred to the decant tank.

The reactor will be constructed from 70 concrete panels each weighing 11 tonnes. They will take up to three months to install by crane.

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Far North District Council infrastructure manager Andy Finch said the new facility would replace an ageing treatment plant that was operating at full capacity and did not meet effluent discharge standards required by its resource consent.

The new plant would be able to treat 1000cu m of wastewater a day, more than three times the capacity of the existing plant.

The project would cater for 1090 properties already connected to the Kerikeri Wastewater Scheme plus a further 350 properties that currently relied on septic tanks. It would have capacity for another 350-400 properties.

Meanwhile, Broadspectrum is also building a 1.5km polyethylene pipeline through Waitangi Forest to take treated wastewater for discharge into the Waitangi wetlands.

The new and oft-delayed sewage plant is thought to be the council's single biggest project to date with a budgeted cost of $25.6m. It is due to open before Christmas.

The new plant is being built on the edge of Waitangi Forest and is accessed from Shepherd Rd. The current plant is near the corner of Shepherd and Inlet Rds.

The Far North District Council is also working to upgrade its Paihia wastewater treatment plant after it was taken to the Environment Court by the Northland Regional Council for breaching its resource consent.

The court ordered the district council to fund an upgrade to reduce ammonia levels in the treated waste wastewater by April 5.

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On April 4 councillors committed $6m, $2.7m of which was new funding, to building a ''submerged aerated bio-shell reactor'' on the site of the current plant.