Residents say a landfill at Wellington's South Coast has turned into a "sewage sludge cemetery".
The Wellington City Council is facing a $185 million bill to deal with the looming wastewater sludge overload.
But representatives of the Owhiro Bay Residents' Association told councillors today the proposed plan maintained the South Coast as Wellington's "dirty little secret".
Meanwhile, the Upper Hutt City Council has unanimously voted in favour of an urgent review of Wellington Water's structure.
Documents show councillors have expressed dissatisfaction around performance measures, delivery, and transparency.
Mayor Wayne Guppy will now write a letter with the recommendation to undertake a review to the chair of the Wellington Water Committee for consideration.
Wellington Water has been approached for comment.
About 374,000 tonnes of sludge is processed at Moa Point treatment plant annually - a quantity which is expected to increase as the population grows.
But at the same time volumes of solid waste are projected to decrease as the council moves on waste minimisation.
This is a problem because sludge is disposed of by mixing it with solid waste at the landfill, which can be no less than a ratio of 4:1 solid waste to sludge.
The volume of sludge being produced is already close to or will soon exceed the consented ratio, so the council and Wellington Water have to come up with a new way to deal with it.
Wellington Water has assessed several options and has recommended a two-stage solution, the first being something called a thermal hydrolysis and digestion plant.
This breaks down the sludge molecules by heat, reducing the total mass, which is easier to dry or dewater.
The second stage would be the installation of a thermal dryer.
This wouldn't eliminate the sludge but it would reduce the volume by up to 82 per cent and reduce carbon emissions by 63 per cent.
Representatives of the Owhiro Bay Residents' Association described the burying of sewage sludge at the landfill as an archaic solution.
Resident Angela Wilson said dumping sludge in the landfill was only ever meant to be a temporary solution, but it has now gone on for more than a decade.
She described the situation as being a "sewage sludge cemetery".
Wilson said they were concerned the closures of other nearby landfills have resulted in the Southern Landfill increasingly becoming the regional waste centre.
"What we have now in inadequate, outdated, and broken... We want the solution to live with Wellington's brand of being an innovative and liveable city."
Residents also wanted more transparency and to be involved in the decision making earlier on in the piece, separate from the Long Term Plan.
Three Waters portfolio leader councillor Sean Rush answered that call.
He has asked for the concept design paper to be publicly released and said he would personally ensure other information was made available.
He didn't want to overstate the significance of the proposal councillors were considering today calling it an update on where Wellington Water was at with its investigations.
Deputy mayor Sarah Free said her preference was for the issue to be dealt with through its own process outside of the Long Term Plan.
"As much as transport, this is going to be a city shaping project in its own right."
Southern Ward councillor Fleur Fitzsimmons said the work was urgent and necessary for the whole city.
"It became really clear late last year that water infrastructure in Wellington was in crisis and that we needed to make difficult and important decisions for the future."
She acknowledged residents of Moa Point and the South Coast have been incredibly patient.
"But we know their patience has limits and all Wellington residents deserve much better than the current approach.
"Many residents have raised concerns with me, and they're valid concerns, about the need for infrastructure upgrades to manage existing residents, but also growth, and I see this as part of addressing their concerns."
Wellington City Councillors received and noted the information presented to them at a committee meeting today. Ongoing work to find a solution is continuing.