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SFF forced to pour more waste into river

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 05:00 30/04/2014

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Treated effluent has once again been poured into the Waimakariri River.

Silver Fern Farms (SFF) was forced to discharge trade waste on Monday and yesterday as it was unable to be processed by the Christchurch City Council's Bromley treatment plant because of the city's flooding.

It is about the fifth time this year the business has used an old resource consent to discharge treated effluent and stormwater, which legally it can do.

SFF chief executive Keith Cooper said it was not his preference, but there was no better alternative.

It was doing everything possible to minimise effects by working different hours at the plant, holding as much as possible in treatment ponds and discharging to the river at low levels.

He said the firm had "invested heavily" to move away from daily consented river discharges of treated wastewater by moving to the council's trade waste system, but that system was "now letting us down".

The completion of an upgraded pump station was essential as the firm had been assured it would fix flooding issues.

"We celebrated moving away from river discharges, as although the impact is managed under the terms of our consent we believe it is the right thing to do. But, like many in Christchurch we have to be patient and make compromises in the short term."

Cooper said the recent announcement of the taskforce into flooding and water infrastructure issues in Christchurch was good news, and he hoped the completion of the upgraded pump station was prioritised.

"Until then, we are as frustrated as many in the city about the reliability of key infrastructure following the earthquakes."

A council spokeswoman said heavy rainfall and flooding resulted in reduced capacity for effluent disposal as pumping stations began to overflow.

An Environment Canterbury spokeswoman said SFF had discharged about 2600 cubic metres on both days with both containing a significant amount of stormwater as well as effluent.

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- Fairfax Media

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