The performance of Masterton's new sewage treatment plant, which is yet to be fully commissioned, came under fire at a Masterton District Council meeting this week with revelations almost all of the treated effluent in the past six months has been pumped into the Ruamahanga River.

Councillor David Holmes, who lives close by the new plant and who opposed the border dyke system of irrigation almost from the outset, quoted figures he had obtained from the Greater Wellington Regional Council showing that from October to April only 8.2 per cent of effluent was discharged to land.

"There was very little irrigation done and 91.8 per cent of the effluent went into the river.

"Personally, I think that was unacceptable and was never the intention," Mr Holmes said.


He said he liked to think he had an open mind over the scheme but the whole issue of waste water disposal needed to be looked at.

Mr Holmes mentioned a beleaguered Kaipara District Council sewage scheme which had blown out financially, leading to the Mangawhai Ratepayers and Residents Association taking the council to court.

A High Court judge has since found the Kaipara council broke the law when it decided to build and then expand the scheme.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said it was "unfortunate" Mr Holmes had chosen to mention the Kaipara situation, especially when a reporter was present.

She said the sewage scheme was still not fully commissioned and it might be an appropriate time for councillors to revisit the site.

Assets manager David Hopman said the border dykes were working well but the council was "still in the commissioning phase".

"We still have more plant to commission and we have not breached our consents."

According to the council's own reports, a key reason for resource consent being granted for the scheme was because it would reduce treated wastewater containing nutrients being discharged into the Ruamahanga.


Mr Hopman said the regional council had been kept up to date on the commissioning of the plant and targets could be achieved once the plant was fully operational.

Meanwhile, the council has sold almost all baleage cropped from the site, harvesting grass from the irrigated areas.

The council sold around 1500 bales at $85 a bale and another 100, which had a higher dry matter content, for $75 a bale.

The baleage was all sold outside Wairarapa, apart from one or two bales, and mostly went to Waikato.

Mr Hopman said there could be a further 100 bales to harvest this season but officers were now "looking forward to orders for next season".

With the cost of labour, materials and equipment taken out, the council made a profit of around $25-$30 on most bales.


Mr Hopman said the reason why bales did not sell locally was Wairarapa had enjoyed such a good season there was no shortage in the district and subsequently no demand locally.