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Published: 2003-03-19 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has granted resource consents authorising discharges from Fonterra’s Te Awamutu dairy factory.

The company had applied for three stormwater and wastewater discharge consents and consents to construct structures and remove debris from the Mangapiko Stream. Two submissions were received, from a neighbour and Waikato District Council.

The company did not oppose any of the proposed consent conditions, and said the adverse effects of the activities would be no more than minor.

Waikato District Council said its concerns were addressed in Environment Waikato’s technical report. The other submitter said he was concerned about the present and future quality of the Mangapiko Stream. While he accepted that the majority of the proposed conditions were appropriate, he was concerned about levels of nutrients, stormwater divert values, maximum temperature of the wastewater discharge, dissolved oxygen and sodium levels.

He said mitigation by the company was inadequate and it should pay more to treat the wastewater to a higher quality, particularly to reduce nutrients.

Environment Waikato officer Barry Campbell said the stream was already affected by agricultural activities upstream and the Te Awamutu sewage and dairy factory discharges worsened this. However it was not practicable to cease either discharge, and the dairy factory was an essential part of the Te Awamutu community.

The community had accepted that the discharge should continue, and the factory had achieved high compliance in the last six or seven years. Specific changes were presented to conditions for biochemical oxygen demand, temperature, dissolved oxygen and ammonia.

The Hearing Committee said it recognised there was general community support for the proposal. The company had offered to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant to remove significantly more oxygen from the effluent, and the riparian planting had the potential to improve stream quality.

The dairy company was not the sole contributor to the state of the stream and it was the cumulative effect of many discharges. At present, an improved wastewater discharge to the stream was the best practical option.

Continuing the milk factory would enable the community to provide for its social, economic and cultural well-being, conditions would safeguard the present life-supporting capacity and the upgrade would improve water quality. As well, the company had proposed removing old structures from the stream bed and riparian planting.