Public submissions on Tararua District Council's 20-year consent application for Eketahuna's wastewater will be discussed next Wednesday at a pre-hearing meeting at Caccia Birch in Palmerston North.

Of the 12 submissions made to Horizons Regional Council on the TDC's consent application, 11 are in opposition, including those from the MidCentral Public Health Service, Wellington Fish & Game, and the Water & Environmental Care Association.

Wastewater treatment in Eketahuna has been carried out at the town's oxidation pond treatment system, which was constructed in the 1970s and accessed from Bridge St.

The council's application for resource consent will authorise the continued discharge of treated wastewater into the Makakahi River.


TDC assets group manager Kathy Dever-Tod said the collection and treatment of sewage was a core function of the council and she welcomed the opportunity to discuss the consent application at the pre-hearing meeting "with the full intention of finding a way forward together".

"It is the responsibility of the wider community to ensure that the resulting wastewater can be disposed of appropriately and sustainably," she said.

"In this context sustainability refers not only to environmental outcomes, but also to cultural, social and financial.

"Council is very aware that a balance needs to be struck across these four well-beings, and appreciates that people hold different views on the relative importance of each of these."

The submissions opposing the application raise concerns around the requested 20-year consent term, which was considered to be too long, and also around the lack of assessment of alternative methods of disposal and discharge, and consent monitoring and enforcement.

Water Protection Society Inc in particular said there was an issue with the lack of adequate, up-to-date data on wastewater quantities and characteristics in the application, as well as a lack of data on effluent quality.

The group also mentioned that council had "a long history of delaying doing anything" as 10 years had passed since the expiry of the former wastewater consent for Eketahuna. It was extended by a short-term consent in 2012.

A term of seven years was suggested to be more reasonable for the consent, because it would give enough time to gather up-to-date data and information following Eketahuna's wastewater system upgrade, which was not included in the application.

The Eketahuna Golf Club supported the consent application and mentioned in their written submission to Horizons that future proposals would improve the discharge into the Makakahi River and environment.