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Published: 2002-10-01 00:00:00

Environment Waikato has granted resource consents to allow an upgrade to Meremere’s wastewater treatment plant.

The Waikato District Council applied for consents to upgrade the plant which discharges from the small community surrounding the former power station. Nine submissions were received from Genesis Power, Mercer Rowing Club, Transit New Zealand, Watercare Services, District Health and a number of Maori representatives.

The applicant proposes to upgrade the treatment plant by installing a baffle to stop short circuiting in the oxidation pond and a constructed sub-surface flow wetland as tertiary treatment. This would remove most of the algae that currently accumulates on the oxidation pond due to underloading and long retention times, and should reduce the nutrient loading in the discharge.

A new discharge pipeline to a diffuser in the bed of the Waikato River is to replace the current connection to the stormwater sump to allow better dispersion and mixing within the river. The applicant requested a 20 year term.

Genesis Power said while the wastewater discharge continued, it would require continued operation of the pump station that Genesis wished to disestablish. It also had concerns about the works the applicant intended relating to the alternative treatment and disposal options in how they may affect capped areas of the Genesis site.

Environment spokesperson for the Meremere community Brenda Maxwell said she was not in favour of either option the applicant had given. She questioned iwi consultation and why a cultural impact report had not been received.

Other iwi groups had suggested an alternative of discharge to wetlands. The application should be revisited when new technology came on line, she said.

The Mercer Rowing Club was concerned about health and safety for its members, who in the past had had serious cases of infection. The club wanted increased land for a wetland to reduce wastewater volume and installation of UV treatment to remove bacteria.

Environment Waikato said the discharge had no discernible effects on the river, and this would be further reduced after the upgrade. The diffuser would provide a substantial improvement to the discharge.

Granting the consents, the Committee said the discharge would have no more than minor effects and the upgrade would improve discharge quality. The consent was granted for 15 years to allow for spreading of costs of the upgrade and balancing the wish of the community for improvements as technology developed.