Close watch on sewage ponds

It is a case of so far, so good with the beleaguered sewage ponds at Wakapuaka, but the council is not holding its breath over a full recovery – at least not yet.

Alec Louverdis, the Nelson City Council network services executive manager, said contractor Nelmac, which took over the job of running the wastewater treatment plant and ponds after the previous contractor quit the role late last year, said things were looking OK for the time of year when odours had been a problem but the process was still to be closely monitored.

"We're doing a lot more monitoring and we are involving CPG [specialist engineering firm] on reviewing data more regularly as another set of eyes, so we have the best heads collectively looking at operational issues.

"Having said that we did have two short-lasting odour issues the week before last week, but the ponds are looking OK," Mr Louverdis said.

The city council appointed its specialist contracting firm Nelmac to take over the operations from last December, after previous contractor United Group Limited's (UGL) contract expired and it did not renew it. The move came in the aftermath of problems at the sewage plant and associated ponds, which have perennially released foul odours over Nelson, causing public anger and council frustration.

UGL was awarded the $9 million contract to design and build the plant between 2006 and 2008, and then run it.

The ponds have "crashed" several times since the plant's upgrade, and on several occasions the operator has incurred penalties for breaching resource consent conditions around odour, which is not meant to spread further than the state highway.

Breaches incur a $1000 penalty each time. The council holds the consent for the plant, but passed on costs to the operator, UGL.

In April last year the council commissioned CPG, a subsidiary of Downer EDi, to review the operating procedures of the plant to try to find the source of the problem.

The Nelson Mail