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Published: 2000-10-16 00:00:00

Te Kuiti’s wastewater treatment plant is still causing major problems, according to regular monitoring by Environment Waikato and an independent review.

Last week’s Regulatory Committee heard an independent review by Opus International Consultants described the ponds as “currently grossly overloaded”. Last month weekly monitoring of the plant, following Environment Waikato staff concerns about the plant’s operation earlier this year, had revealed that all areas tested were still well above allowable limits of the plant’s resource consent.

Suspended solids were almost double the limit and sometimes almost 10 times the maximum allowable. Phosphorus, nitrogen and ammoniacal nitrogen were also well over the maximums, and average readings of faecal coliforms almost three times the maximum. Some samples were seven times the maximum.

Ammonia levels had raised downstream levels above the threshold for toxicity to fish, and other levels were of concern because of their potential to reduce oxygen levels and support nuisance growths.

A meeting with Waitomo District Council late last month and a site inspection showed signs that possible improvements in the effluent to the Mangaokewa River could be expected and the effect on the river might be reduced as the nearby meat packing site had reduced production and had been dry disposing of some product. The pond had started to recover and the odour problem, which had caused several complaints, was abating.

Discussions have been held on several occasions with Waitomo District Council staff about the issues, and the Regional Council has been working closely with the District Council to improve the effluent quality discharged by the treatment plant. The District Council had been discussing trade waste agreements with the meat packing company.

The District Council has been issued with an abatement notice requiring it to comply with resource consent conditions by November 10.