Hearing on river to begin

SANDRA CROSBIE
Last updated 12:00 10/07/2014

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The long-running battle about how to treat Feilding's wastewater continues in a preliminary hearing today.

Currently discharging all treated wastewater into the Oroua River on an expired resource consent, Manawatu District Council proposes to divert up to 90 per cent of it to land when the river flow is low. There would also be two large storage ponds for short-term use and discharge into the river would continue when its flow was higher.

MDC bought two farms surrounding the Wastewater Treatment Plant on Kawakawa Rd to allow for the development of an irrigating land system for treated wastewater, enabling a dual discharge scheme.

The moves to improve the system came after the council was required to investigate its options as part of an application for a new resource consent from Horizons Regional Council.

But 18 neighbouring residents of the Feilding Wastewater Treatment Plant formed a group in 2009 and have presented numerous submissions requesting further information on the irrigation dispersal. They believe it could adversely affect the neighbouring property owners and residents.

Group member Dr Jim Wilson, a horticulturist and academic who has lived on Boness Rd for 40 years, says the group is more than a Nimby (Not In My Back Yard) lobby. Its members have concerns about the irrigation taking place on a flood plain and native bush being removed, and want to see test runs of the system.

Wilson said the council has the wrong site, and has not considered enough alternatives.

Hamish Waugh, MDC general manager of infrastructure, said the project, at about $20 million, is one of the council's most expensive.

"We have made a considerable investment in getting this process right," he said.

He believed the group's concerns would be addressed at the preliminary hearing today. Waugh said buffer zones with plantings and a GPS-controlled pivot irrigation system would ensure there is no impact on neighbouring properties.

He also confirmed 20 hectares would be returned to native bush between the Makino Stream and Awahuri Rd and would be developed along the same lines as Kitchener Park. An area of bush in the middle of the farmland, which the neighbours were concerned about, would remain in its natural state.

The preliminary hearing is expected to take three days, with the resource consent hearing starting on August 11 in Palmerston North.

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- Manawatu Standard

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