Te Anau sewerage scheme review under way

PDP environmental engineer Dan Garden, left, is led by Southland District Council Water and Waste services Manager Ian ...
Barry Harcourt

PDP environmental engineer Dan Garden, left, is led by Southland District Council Water and Waste services Manager Ian Evans on a tour of the Te Anau wastewater treatment plant, also on the tour are PDP technical director Robert Docherty, PDP environmental scientist Karen Sky and Southland district mayor Gary Tong.

After months of frustration for many Te Anau and Manapouri residents since consents were approved, action on a proposed sewerage scheme is under way.

Southland District Council-appointed peer reviewers, a trio of experts from Pattle Delamore Partners, arrived in Te Anau on Sunday night, and spoke at the council's Te Anau Wastewater Discharge Project Committee meeting on Monday.

In January three commissioners approved consents for the council to designate land for wastewater treatment, as well as an application to discharge wastewater on to land and odour to air to replace Te Anau's existing scheme.

Te Anau resident Glenda Bell makes a presentation to Te Anau Wastewater Discharge Project Committee members during the ...
Barry Harcourt

Te Anau resident Glenda Bell makes a presentation to Te Anau Wastewater Discharge Project Committee members during the public forum section of a meeting in Te Anau on Monday.

The proposal was met with vehement opposition from the community, and the consents were appealed to the Environment Court.

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PDP technical director Robert Docherty, environmental scientist Karen Sky and environmental engineer Dan Garden spoke to the committee.

During their three days in Te Anau, the trio will meet with the public and other stakeholders to gather information about opinions on the proposed scheme and any suggestions for alternatives.

They would also spend a day meeting stakeholders in Invercargill, Docherty said.

The review would evaluate the proposed scheme against other practicable options.

Some of those options have already been identified, and Manapouri resident Murray Hagen asked whether the committee had been told of them yet.

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Committee chairman and Southland District Mayor Gary Tong said he had signed a confidentiality agreement regarding a Hokonui Runanga scheme, so the committee had not been filled in on it, but hoped the agreement could be waived so that PDP could have access to it.

A second proposed scheme, from Ecogent director Peter Riddell, was freely available for the review.

Docherty said he had spoken with Riddell, whose scheme could be "impressive," but it, along with everything which would be included in the review, would need careful consideration.

Several Te Anau and Manapouri residents spoke at Monday's meeting, including Fiordland Sewage Options Inc chairman Alistair Paton-McDonald, who was concerned about the tight timeframe set for the peer reviewers.

A draft copy of the review is expected to be completed by October, with a final report due in November.

"We are concerned that the timeframe specified by [the Southland District Council] to carry out the review could dramatically hinder a complete opening of the books to derive the correct outcome.

"We believe that time is irrelevant, as is cost in looking at and coming up with the best system."

Tong reassured Paton-McDonald that the review would be thorough, and if PDP needed more time to complete it, then that would be negotiated willingly.

Te Anau resident Glenda Bell spoke against the consented scheme, describing it as a " shamozzle ," and questioned council staff and expert evidence given during the consent process.

But Tong regularly interrupted her and warned against speaking poorly of members of council staff.

"You've got a very positive committee going forward," he said.

Committee member Shirley Mouat thanked Bell for speaking at the meeting.

"I believe Mrs Bell's comments are borne out of frustration," Mouat said.

The final report from PDP should include everything the council will need to make a final decision on whether to forge ahead with the current proposal, or switch to another, including budgets.

 - Stuff

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