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Sewage plants failing consent compliance

Sewage plants have the most difficulty complying with consent conditions, this month’s Environment Waikato Regulatory Committee heard.

The Council conducted an audit of priority sites in the Region for the past year and found nearly two thirds of Priority One sites had a high level of compliance or better Resource Use programme manager David Stagg said. Nearly all significant non compliance at Priority One sites was from the utility sector, particularly district sewage plants.

Around the Region, 57 sites were regarded as Priority One status primarily because of their potential to cause significant environmental effects, the extent of their activities or a history of non compliance.

Energy, forestry and mineral sectors - a quarter of the Priority One sites - had all achieved a high level of compliance or better. A high level was achieved by 74 percent of industrial sector sites and only five percent were in significant non compliance.

Nearly one third of all the sewage plants audited had significant non-compliance.

Where significant non compliance had been recorded there had been some form of regulatory action taken and courses of action to comply in the future had been agreed.

“It is recognised that upgrades to sewage plants can be both difficult and expensive,” he said.

It could take several years for some wastewater treatment plants to achieve compliance due to budgeting, design and community consultation needs.

Utility providers needed to be encouraged to continue planning for industry and population growth in their areas and ensure adequate resourcing was provided to cope with infrastructural requirements in the future, he said.

Of Priority Two and Three sites – those with moderate environmental effects - most had a high level of compliance and only up to five percent had significant non compliance.

Cr Jenni Vernon said the Council needed to work closely with district councils to ensure they recognised the importance of complying.

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