Council plans committee for Te Anau sewerage scheme

This sign in Te Anau illustrates the strong feelings in the area against the proposed sewerage scheme for the town.
Barry Harcourt

This sign in Te Anau illustrates the strong feelings in the area against the proposed sewerage scheme for the town.

The Southland District Council will consider whether it should set up a committee for the Te Anau sewerage scheme proposals next week.

Mayor Gary Tong said a report would be put to councillors at a meeting on Wednesday recommending a committee be set up.

It would be responsible for handling a peer review of the current proposed scheme, and would investigate other options which have been offered.

Commissioners Denis Nugent, left, Yvette Couch-Lewis, Rob Potts with Southland District Council staffer Simon MoranAnd ...
Barry Harcourt

Commissioners Denis Nugent, left, Yvette Couch-Lewis, Rob Potts with Southland District Council staffer Simon MoranAnd Environment Southland staffer Roy Hammond at the site where the district council wants to discharge sewage from Te Anau.

 Members of the committee would include Tong as chairman, one councillor from the Mararoa-Waimea Ward, one from outside the ward, two representatives from the Te Anau Community Board, two from the Manapouri Community Development Area subcommittee, and a representative from Te Ao Marama Inc.

The committee would meet every four to six weeks in the Te Anau area, he said.

"It's important we keep the community totally involved. Not only with the current proposal, but with what is [coming in from] outside," he said.

He understood the main complaints from opponents of the scheme were the technology used to treat and dispose of the sewerage, and the location of where it was to end up.

Two or three land owners had approached the council offering their properties as possible alternative sites, which would be looked at, Tong said.

He acknowledged that technology had changed in the ten years since the project began.

"In the meantime we will also look at other proposals for treatment," he said.

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There were two disposal proposals on his desk right now, both using sub-soil technology instead of irrigators, which sees the sewerage discharged beneath the ground instead of spread onto it.

So far, the council had spent between $800,000 and $900,000 on the proposal, which did not include the $4million spent on purchasing the land for the scheme, Tong said.

The original budget for the scheme was between about $9 and $11million, but had since blown out to $13m because of the drawn-out process so far, he said.

Meanwhile, the appeals period for the decision to grant consents for the scheme has closed, with three appeals received by Environment Southland.

Environment Southland principal consents officer Steve West said those who appealed against the decision were willing to go into mediation with the Southland District Council, but there was no timeline for the process yet.

The appeals were from the Fiordland Sewage Options Group, Ruth and Lance Shaw, and Alistair Paton-McDonald. 

The Shaws and Paton-McDonald are members of the FSO, and are likely to put forward their appeals as one.

Follow Hannah McLeod on Twitter.

 - The Southland Times

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