Effluent from Feilding sewage plant to go on farm pastures

Horizon's regional councillors in the environment committee, visit Feilding waste water plant. Hamish Waugh explains how ...
DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ.

Horizon's regional councillors in the environment committee, visit Feilding waste water plant. Hamish Waugh explains how it works.

New irrigators are about to spread treated town effluent from Feilding onto council-owned farm pastures.

Manawatu District Council infrastructure manager Hamish Waugh said a new land based system was a big change from the past.

The Manawatu town used to have settling ponds, and pump untreated liquid into the nearby Oroua River in the 1980s, but that was no longer acceptable, he said.

"The MDC has invested in this system," said Waugh, showing about nine Horizons regional councillors and two staff around the Feilding sewage plant. "Four farms have already been bought. There is 150 hectares of land which can be irrigated, and the four farms have cost about $8 million."

READ MORE: Oroua River not clean, but improving

As a result of a 2015 Environment Court hearing, the old resource paperwork, which had 20 conditions, had been changed to 127 conditions, and rather than the 35 year consent period the MDC was after it got a 10 year consent.

Regional councillors said from 2008, the treatment system was so bad, it gave consent year by year.

Waugh said property purchases for the land based treatment system included a near-by house, but MDC was hoping to buy another privately owned house.

Waugh said the spreading of treated effluent was being trialled with one irrigator.  He expected to have the five large irrigators up and running next summer.

In the meantime, MDC was pumping treated effluent into the Oroua River.

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Waugh said the summer had been wet, but there was still potential for daily  irrigation of treated effluent on pasture.

He said the effluent pipeline from Feilding delivered about 7.5 million litres a day and when it rained, stormwater which got into the sewerage system, could make it as high as 25 million litres.

"Some of the pipes are really old, 60 to 100 years and they get damaged. We are replacing them and we go to check out properties sometimes."

He said that was why stormwater got into sewerage.

Waugh said the MDC's farms were being leased out.

"If you come back here in a year, you'll see five irrigators working on land.  There is some maize now, but it will all be grass and a cut and carry system."

Waugh said once the irrigators were working each day there would be an assessment to decide whether treated effluent should be held in tanks, irrigated to land, or go into the river.

"We will look at things like soil moisture, river flow, the weather forecast on rain and wind and it will also depend on the volume in the ponds."

He said there was enough growth in the sewage system, to cope with 20 years of projected growth.

 - Stuff

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