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Published: 2010-01-26 00:00:00

An Environment Waikato hearing committee’s decision may save Thames-Coromandel ratepayers millions of dollars while still meeting environmental standards.

The committee released its decision today removing the requirement for Thames-Coromandel District Council (TCDC) to create additional storage for treated wastewater at its Whangamata Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The committee also granted TCDC more time to monitor the plant before building denitrification beds. The denitrification beds may not be required, as the plant is expected to produce a better quality wastewater than that envisaged in the original resource consent process.

TCDC now has until July 2010 to monitor the plant and report whether the existing technology can produce lower nitrogen discharge levels than originally expected. If these lower levels are not achieved, denitrification beds must be constructed by July 2012, one year later than the date set in the original resource consent.

In its report, the committee acknowledged TCDC for being proactive in reviewing the spending of further public funds without the guarantee of significant environmental benefits.

The resource consent change application was heard at a hearing in Whangamata from December 14-15 by a committee comprising an Environment Waikato councillor and two independent commissioners. The hearing included a site visit to the wastewater treatment plant.