The Queenstown-Lakes District Council (QLDC) has given up on its application to discharge wastewater into some of New Zealand's most iconic lakes.
QLDC announced today it would not appeal a recent Otago Regional Council (ORC) decision to decline its resource consent application to discharge untreated wastewater overflows into freshwater bodies such as Lakes Wakatipu and Lake Wanaka.
In its announcement it said submissions during the consenting process showed the community did not support the proposed approach, which has encouraged the council to consider new investment to address the risk of overflows from its network while continuing to protect public health.
This alternative approach would include the council working with the community to ensure there was a clear understanding of what steps could be taken to help avoid overflows.
QLDC General Manager Property & Infrastructure Peter Hansby said a lot was learned through interactions with the community and iwi.
"Although an appeal to the Environment Court was an option, officers proposed to use the draft conditions of consent as an alternative plan to councillors.
"Hopefully this approach will improve environmental outcomes while also eliminating any potential for future prosecutions," said Hansby.
Mayor Jim Boult acknowledged the community had been very clear about their feelings on the resource consent application.
"The council heard in no uncertain terms how people felt.
"Much of the intent behind the application was one of education and reducing risk of overflows whilst endeavouring to reduce the occurrence of costly court cases.
"On balance the council has determined that investing in these new initiatives is preferable to continuing to litigate the issue through the courts, and sends a clear message that this council is taking its responsibilities seriously – both to the service levels for the community and in protecting our natural environment."
"We very much want to work closely with ORC to implement the programme of work outlined. Together our approach will continue to be one that educates and mitigates risk rather than just responding when things go wrong," Boult said.