The Mangakino community is to receive $30,000 towards community projects from Taupo District Council (TDC) as part of a restorative justice ruling handed down last week by the Tokoroa District Court over illegal sewage dumping.
After a prosecution initiated by Environment Waikato, TDC pleaded guilty to illegally dumping sewage sludge at sites around the town in 2008. The discharges by TDC followed a series of problems with Mangakino’s sewage system.
EW consented to a restorative justice process that involved a meeting in Mangakino to work out how a suggested $27,000 fine could be put back into the local community.
That meeting was subsequently held in July and was attended by more than 30 people, including representatives from TDC and EW. TDC apologized to the Mangakino community for the offending and the way it had handled the issue. It agreed it would communicate clearly with the town if any further incidents occurred, and to keep people informed about the outcome of the court case and the awarding of any money to projects.
Residents at the meeting suggested TDC could pay for research into problems caused by the stormwater system that currently links into the sewage system on many properties, the use of soak holes and the provision of irrigation of treated water on to the golf course to disperse some of the water. They also suggested contributions towards insulation of housing in Mangakino and a community garden.
As a result of the meeting TDC offered to pay $15,000 towards a new irrigation and treatment process to provide irrigation to the golf course. Judge Melanie Harland noted this would provide a substantial start to the project.
TDC also offered to pay $5,000 to research the stormwater flow into the sewage system and to address possible solutions to the problem this caused. Another $10,000 was offered for the community garden.
Judge Harland said she was “very impressed” with the results of the restorative justice process saying they were an “excellent example of what can be achieved by people when they approach the solution to a problem with goodwill and lateral thought”.
She agreed that TDC would be convicted and discharged on the basis that the following was implemented “as soon as possible”:
· TDC contributed $15,000 towards improving the town’s sewage system and irrigation facilities
· TDC paid at least $5,000 towards researching stormwater influx into the sewage system
· A total of $10,000 was contributed by TDC to a community garden project and that a mail drop was done to advise people of the result of the court case.
Judge Harland commended TDC and EW for their willingness to address the situation in a way which had ensured that “the victim of the offending, the Mangakino community, is appropriately recompensed in a manner which is of benefit to it”.
EW’s investigations and complaints manager Patrick Lynch said he was pleased with the outcome of the restorative justice process.
“Taupo District Council appears to be making a real effort to make good to the Mangakino Community. I am impressed that they were prepared to front up to the community and apologise for the sewage dumping in person.
“This process has been an excellent medium for involving the community and fully informing them of what has been happening in their back yard. I commend the way the community turned out for the restorative justice meeting and was able to clearly indicate what they wanted.
“We will continue to work with both TDC and the Mangakino community in making sure that sewage issues in the town are managed properly.”