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Published: 2004-02-09 00:00:00

More than 40 people from throughout the North Island attended a three-day training programme in Hamilton last week on managing on-site wastewater systems.

The trainees were from district and regional councils, consultants and septic tank manufacturing firms. The programme was hosted by Environment Waikato and led by Australian expert Joe Whitehead from Newcastle. Environment Waikato first hosted the programme in Hamilton in February 2001 and the comprehensive programme has been run 48 times in Australia and five times in New Zealand due to demand.

Environment Waikato Regulatory Committee Chairman Jim Howland said disposing of wastewater was a significant issue for the Region. Environmental problems often occurred because people did not understand how they worked.

“Recently we have been dealing with problems in Lake Taupo and the Rotorua lakes where wastewater failures are contributing to the decline of water quality. We are also concerned about protecting groundwater.”

Mr Howland said there had been a rapid change in the on-site wastewater industry over recent years with many new systems available and new standards developed. As a rural Region, the Waikato had approximately 45,000 on-site sewerage systems and proper management of them was required under the Regional Plan.

“With a history of failures and incidents from effluent it is important that those involved in the on-site industry are skilled to ensure that all on-site systems are properly implemented and managed,” he said.