Hastings Council’s Christmas present to Clive residents has been to shut down the new non-functioning Hastings domestic sewage treatment plant!

In an announcement timed to arrive Christmas eve, and sent only to nearby residents and the handful of citizens who have previously formally submitted on sewage plant issues, the Council indicated the plant would be shut down from 23 December to 6 January in order to provide for “further testing and improvement to the operation of the plant.”

Yeah, right! Here’s the real story.

The plant hasn’t worked properly since it was activated back on 30 June. Complaints of foul smells date back at least to early September … and the Council has been unable to rectify the problem. Critics of the Biological Trickling Filter (BTF) plant have pointed out design flaws in the system from the outset … and they appear to be proven correct.

Waste (“biomass”) that accumulates in the BTF tanks cannot be flushed out properly. Leaving aside the issue of whether what the Council calls “biomass” (to appease Maori cultural concerns) and flushes into Hawke’s Bay is really poop, the system simply fails to work “as advertised.”

The only thing “flushing” is the $27 million spent on the plant to date by Hastings Council. How much of that will wind up down the toilet? The Council’s announcement (perhaps implicitly acknowledging the severity of the problem) doesn’t promise much hope. It says the shut down “is a necessary step to try to get the new plant running as it should.” It will be fascinating to watch the finger-pointing between HDC and the contractor (MWH) as each runs for cover!

So what happens while the plant is shut down?

Hastings has received emergency relief (i.e. a waiver from complying with its discharge consent) from the ever-cooperative Regional Council … you know, they’re the ones who protect our environment. Consequently, Hastings domestic wastewater — after milliscreening (which catches only larger materials for removal to landfill) — will simply be discharged into the ocean without further treatment. Happy New Year!

True, HBRC doesn’t have many options other than a “pragmatic approach” (as they call it) when a local Council stuffs it up so badly. But perhaps they might consider imposing a fine on HDC for every day the plant is non-compliant or inoperative … just like they would treat a farmer, right Councillor McGregor? If the Hastings Council had to report paying thousands of dollars in fines (from ratepayer funds), perhaps ratepayers would tolerate less of this Council’s bungling.

A sight to behold will be Council and contractor staff manually hosing “biomass” off the media that will need to be removed from the filtration tanks. Bring your cameras to the Clive plant on Tuesday the 29th when the holiday fun presumably begins. And Mayor Arnott, perhaps you’ll want to attend, given Napier’s commitment to exactly the same system. Also, Ngahiwi Tomoana, as a champion of the system on behalf of Maori, you might consider officiating over the cleansing.

Of course, the manner in which the Hastings Council has attempted to bury the matter — by limited release of information with major community-wide significance over the holiday period — is itself a lesson in the Council’s tendency to mock transparency.

All in all, one more example of effective local government in the public interest, Hastings-style.

Stay tuned for the video coverage!

Tom Belford

Join the Conversation


  1. This is hardly surprising news -well at least not if you have ever talked to David Renuof or have researched other cities treatment systems. One wonders what sort of back flips are about to be performed over this one. Hopefuly the Napier councillors take notice and don't repeat the 'unfortunate experiment' over here.

    Is it my imagination or are 'we' stumbling from one disaster to another around here?

  2. Hi Everyone.

    Until now, having been a keen Bay Buzz Reader every Morning I have suppressed the desire to comment on the subjects that interest me.

    However, there is a limit to my tollerance of Idiocy and blatent waste of the Ratepayers money.

    My History.

    Let me firstly state , I am not a "Greenie"by Nature , or, do I buy into the Global Warming Debate on either side of the Argument.

    I grew up on the Southern oustskirts of Hastings alongside the Irongate Stream , the son of a Dairy Farmer , as most in our Area were. at the time.

    Orcharding was expanding and Horticulture was the other main use of the surrounding land.

    I witnessed the establishment of Flaxmere and the Repositioning of the Southland Drain to take the West side Hastings Storm Water under our Property from the Corner of York and Maraekakaho Roads to the Irongate in the Mid 1960s.

    Flaxmere Storm Water was also directed into the Irongate Stream.

    Prior to this Generations, of Locals , both from town and Country , swam , Fished and enjoyed the Irongate.

    Not so now, the Filth that arrives down the Pipe from the Southland Drain has on many occasions Killed all the Eels and Fish in the Irongate.

    My Great , Great Grandfather was one of the First Well Sinkers in this area and I , to my Knowledge are the only holder of a Water Bottling Resorce Consent within the Heretunga Plains Aquifer.

    Dont worry, most people use more Water in their Domestic day to , day use than we Bottle.

    Because of the above i have a very Keen interest in the Continuing Quality of the Water and have a comprehensive Testing Proceedures that would alert me to any abnormalities in the Mineral composition Ect.

    This information I have passed to the Regional Concil for their Analysis and records.

    Please Excuse my ramblings.

    Having now established myself and and Family as Generational long suffering Ratepayers, that do care about the Community and Enviroment , i will now fire the first Salvo of Many across the Bow of the Good Ship HDC.

    Just a quick one to enable me to get my Eye in.

    I see that it has been suggested we play Classical music over loud Speakers in the Hasting CBD at night to deter the Moron Brigade form Graffiti Ect .

    The proposer for the Project is long time HDC Employee Colin Hosford.

    For those who are suffering a Memory lapse, the last time Colin got hold of the HDC Cheque Book he Organised at great Expense the PODS in Havelock north.

    I know colin, and he is a very nice Fellow, but Lord, give me Strength!!.

    Whats next? Rap Music to Facilitate and Encoroge patronage of the Retail outlets in the mornings?

    Does this mean I am restricterd to the hours of 3 to 5 PM when Country and Western is played??

    I think I will enjoy commenting, as being one who has taken notice of the changes in the Enviroment over the years know only too well where the "Hot" Spots are .



  3. Oh Dear!!

    The Bio Treatment Plant at Clive is not operating to Expectation.


    Bio Treatment such as used here is not new , I have seen Articles thirty Years ago from Denmark whee it was used in Fish Farms

    A case of Hawkes Bay Gold Medal Red Wine( Of My Choice!!} to the person who Proves me wrong.

    My Take , is the Plant is Too small to Handle the Volume of Effluent it is Expected to turn into nice wee Biological Inert Bacteria that are then Pumped out to Sea.

    And the Eight Fans that the Council is installing?, Great !! if you have a Westerly Wind.

    I have seen the Prototype Operating and it occured to me at the time,that the flow produced , while looking Sexy ,would Require a Huge Facility to Handle the Waste it was expected to.

    Imagine one One Huge Pump at full Capacity let alone Two!!.

    I do hope that the problem can be sorted out.

    But, given the above , the good Residents of East Clive will have to put up with this problem for some time.

    Its only your Rates money!!



  4. I live in clive and i bike past these tanks evry day. When i recieved a letter from the Hasings Distict councl for my concent on the plant it read "no smell" and also "surounded in native life" well i said yes that sounds fine and what i got was a smelly plant with little weeds growing around it those plants are going to take ages to grow. i am now do ing reserch on this and i would like som answeres thanks.

    yours faithfully

    Luka Mayo

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