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Published: 2001-02-14 00:00:00

More than 50 people in the septic tank business from throughout the North Island are attending New Zealand’s first training course on managing on-site wastewater systems.

The Hamilton course has been initiated by Environment Waikato for the Centre for Environmental Training following successful similar courses run in Australia. The Region has about 50,000 domestic wastewater treatment and disposal systems – with a long history of many failures and incidents from effluent.

Those attending the course are district council and Regional Council staff, engineers and consultants working with wastewater disposal. Opening the three day course yesterday, Environment Waikato Regulatory Committee chairman Jim Howland said disposing of wastewater was a significant issue for the Region. Historically there had been environmental effects from systems and failures due to lack of understanding about how they worked.

If discharges from these systems were to be managed effectively them an improvement in knowledge was needed. Many who had strategic roles in planning, implementing, regulating and using on-site systems were unfamiliar with all but very basic methods.

Course leader Joe Whitehead had run 30 of the training programmes in Australia, and running it in the Waikato allowed Environment Waikato to target the 13 territorial authorities in the Region which implemented Regional Council sewage rules.

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. The course will be run in the South Island shortly.

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