Carterton District Council is to donate $20,000 to the regional council after appearing in court on a charge of illegally polluting a Wairarapa waterway.
Carterton council appeared at Wellington District Court yesterday, after pleading guilty in October to illegally discharging wastewater into the Mangatarere Stream from its Dalefield Rd treatment plant.
Yesterday the council proposed payment of the sum to Greater Wellington, which would be put towards the Mangatarere Project, a community-based scheme for cleaning up the troubled stream.
Carterton District Council chief executive Colin Wright said while the matter was formally to be decided on December 22, it was likely the donation would be made. "We saw that as a more positive outcome to ratepayers, and the judge has indicated he's sympathetic to that."
He said the whole process had been frustrating.
"As soon as the leaks were discovered we fixed them and owned up to it, but the regional council insisted on taking it to court, so the whole thing has continued to cost a lot of money for ratepayers." Under its current resource consent, Carterton District Council is permitted to discharge a volume of treated sewage into the stream but only on a seasonal basis.
During an inspection of the wastewater treatment plant on February 24, Greater Wellington officers noticed the discharge of treated and partially treated human effluent to the Mangatarere Stream at three different locations around the plant.
The Mangatarere Stream is a major tributary of the Waiohine River, which in turn flows into the Ruamahanga River, Wairarapa's largest waterway.
Greater Wellington environmental regulation manager Al Cross said the donation sent a clear message to councils.
"Quite rightly, Carterton have done the right thing and entered an early guilty plea and fixed the problem, and also put up the money and recommended that it go towards the Mangatarere."
He said it was pleasing the money would go towards cleaning the stream, which was considered regionally important for trout spawning.
Carterton District Council will reappear at the Wellington District Council on December 22 for sentencing, where Judge Craig Thompson indicated a conviction and discharge was likely.