Like the proverbial fingers in the dike, it seems like Napier’s water infrastructure keeps springing leak after leak.

This time it’s the outfall pipe from NCC’s wastewater treatment plant in Awatoto that’s sprung a leak … again. A small leak the Council says. 

This is the 1.5km pipe that carries Napier’s treated sewage out to sea. It has leaked before and will doubtless leak again before discharge of this effluent to sea is finally banned. As it will for Hastings’ discharge, which uses the same treatment system.

When these consents were previously issued a decade or so ago, Maori were persuaded that passing the treated water over ‘sacred’ rocks accomplished satisfactory cleansing from a spiritual perspective.

This will no longer fly.

Recently the HB Regional Council announced it was abandoning a plan to dump dredged material from the mouth of the Clive River (repeating the past approach to trying to keep the river from flooding back inland when sediment built up). The plan circumspectly noted that the Council itself deemed it too problematic to get a consent to so sully the offshore marine environment.

At the unstated root of this, I suspect, is a change of attitude in the Maori community. Formal opposition to using the Bay/ocean as a dumping ground – for any kind of pollutant – is now highly likely.

The times, they are a’changin!

The HDC and NCC wastewater discharge consents have years to run … the relevant NCC consent expires 2037. But spending millions to repair or replace leaky outfalls will prove to be money down the drain, so to speak. In the future, the material remaining after wastewater treatment in the plants is completed will need to be disposed of on land in some fashion, and/or hopefully biological technologies will be available to ‘eat’ the waste and convert it into something beneficial.

And then there are treatment systems available today that render wastewater drinkable!

Stay tuned.

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1 Comment

  1. It was not only the maori, local sustainable fishing advocates LegaSea HB made a submission to stop the dumping of this material offshore. A real team effort.

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