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Published: 2002-08-16 00:00:00

Thames Coromandel District Council is aiming for 100 percent compliance with its wastewater treatment plants after several years of troubles.

Mayor Chris Lux told Environment Waikato’s Regulatory Committee this week that he was proud of the District Council’s achievements, making significant gains in improving wastewater systems throughout the Coromandel.

“The quality of the environment makes us what we are on the Coromandel, the pressures are very intense and we have a very passionate community.”

The District Council had approved $1.9 million in interim upgrades for the troubled Tairua Pauanui system for the summer, with applications for alternative disposal being prepared, he said.

Chief Executive Steve Ruru said the council had transformed the way it managed its business following a period of lack of investment in infrastructure. It had focused on addressing compliance issues, increasing resourcing and reviewing contracts to ensure they were more performance based. It was also spending six times the amount it had spent five years ago on routine maintenance and three times the capital funding.

“We haven’t solved all the problems but we are well on the way to improving things.”

In 1999 the council had achieved only 44 percent compliance but now had achieved 88 percent compliance with wastewater plants, and only eight were now non-compliant. Water consents had improved from 14 percent compliant in 1999 to 84 percent in April this year.

He said that storm events had inflicted $3.5 million of damage in the last 15 months which was 10 percent of the council’s turnover, and was challenging resourcing priorities.

Environment Waikato chairman Neil Clarke said the Regional Council recognised the huge deficit that the district council had inherited three years ago and congratulated the team in facing “very daunting” problems.

“I would reassure you that there is a very real understanding between the District Council and Environment Waikato, but the buck finally stops with Environment Waikato.”