Marty Sharpe reports in the DomPost — Treated sewage river-bound — that the Central Hawke’s Bay Council (CHB) doesn’t plan to file its resource consent application to dispose of its wastewater effluent on land (instead of continuing to dump it into the Tukituki) until next year!
Writes Sharpe: The application “is now unlikely to be lodged till next year and will still include provision to continue discharging treated effluent to the river.”
As BayBuzz has been reporting forever now (track it here), the filing of this consent has been promised over and over and over … although the promises have come more from the Regional Council (who plans to both subsidize and approve the scheme) than from the CHB Council.
During last year’s local election period, Regional Councillors boasted of this new scheme as though the clean-up were already underway. Let’s just call that ‘stretching the truth’. At the time, I received an email from a senior official at HBRC stating: “Discharge to land (forestry and farm) consents are due for submission according to CPG (the project consultants) who are acting for CHBDC, by Friday 24 September.” That’s 2010.
Nine months after that communication, we read that the application won’t be filed until next year. That’s 2012.
And that’s just filing the application. Nothing to do with actually cleaning up the river.
Meanwhile, HBRC even today insisted to BayBuzz that effluent could be removed from the river this coming summer.
CHB and HBRC are living on different planets.
Clearly CHB has had zero intention of meeting the tougher clean-up standards set for 2014 a single minute sooner than they are legally required to. They’ve played HBRC staff like a violin. And HBRC Councillors have been sleeping through the lullaby.
CHB has gotten the Regional Council to subsidize a project that CHB would otherwise have had to finance on its own. The Regional Council thought it would get a quicker clean-up timetable. But HBRC has been duped.
This is the HBRC that wants us to believe they can manage the pollution effects of more intensive farming in CHB associated with a grand irrigation scheme. That would require HBRC to be able to manage the land use of individual farmers. Yeah right. They can’t even buy the cooperation of a fellow council.
And make no mistake, there’s a bigger picture here when it comes to cleaning up the Tukituki.
The Regional Council at least ‘gets’ what the CHB Council leadership can’t grasp. The public opposition to spending a couple of hundred million dollars on dams for irrigation in CHB will escalate in direct proportion to: a) CHB’s perceived disinterest in getting its sewage out of the Tuki; and b) the HBRC’s perceived impotency to control pollution entering the river.
How the Regional Council — seven of whose members (out of nine) are elected in Hastings and Napier (where many voters actually care about the environment) — deals with being dissed by CHB, as well as with the broader threat to their credibility regarding freshwater clean-up and water harvesting will be interesting to behold.