Bach decision may set wastewater precedent

23:30, May 14 2012

Marlborough Sounds bach owner Neville McCallum says he has won a fight with the Marlborough District Council to extend his bach without replacing a 40-year-old wastewater system.

Commissioner Ron Crosby last week released his decision to give Mr McCallum the option of a two-year consent to treat waste from the original part of the bach through an existing system, against council advice that this must be replaced. Waste from a bathroom in the original bach would be diverted into a new treatment system, which would be larger than originally intended.

Mr McCallum said he objected to retiring the old septic system because an engineer's report confirmed it was working well. Putting all waste through one large new soakage field would have meant pumping waste uphill, which was not a good idea in the Sounds where there were frequent power cuts, he said.

The problem was solved at a private hearing where Mr Crosby and his engineer came up with the compromise, Mr McCallum said.

"This proves if you have an old [waste treatment] field and it is working properly, you do not have to pull it to bits," he said.

In his decision, Mr Crosby said if Mr McCallum opted to retain the old system, in two years he must provide engineering evidence that waste was being spread evenly in the soakage field. If it failed, he might need to build the bigger field and would have to carry the costs of a new resource consent application.

Mr Crosby said council resource management officer Glen Parker was clearly aiming to meet the council objective of upgrading waste treatment systems when the volume needing treatment increased. However, he recognised it would be costly and difficult to build a big new soakage field if the old system was working.

Mr McCallum said he had heard from many other Sounds bach owners in a similar predicament so hoped the finding would set a precedent.


The Marlborough Express