Piping of Cardrona waste given tick

Piping Cardrona Valley residents' wastewater to Wanaka for treatment and disposal has gained provisional support from the Queenstown Lakes District Council and further community consultation and design work will now be carried out.

Council staff have been investigating the feasibility of piping the valley's waste- water about 22 kilometres to the existing pipeline between Wanaka and the Project Pure treatment plant near Wanaka airport.

Called the Cardrona Valley Pipeline, it would connect to the existing pipeline at a point along Riverbank Rd. The Wanaka pipeline is large enough to handle the additional load.

The council's infrastructure services committee yesterday agreed the plan was the best option for dealing with the valley's wastewater problems, which have included two norovirus incidents in recent years which may have been caused by people drinking water contaminated by sewage.

"If we don't tidy up the health issues up there, then we could have some serious issues in the future . . . the impact on our image," said the committee chairman, councillor Lyal Cocks.

In a report to the committee, council project manager Rob Darby said the total cost of the scheme would be about $2 million and its viability was not dependent on financial contributions from the valley's commercial ski areas.

He expected further design work to be carried out during the 2014/15 financial year and, if the scheme was approved, physical work to commence and be completed in 2015/16.

Asked by councillor Jude Battson whether it would be costly for the valley's residents to connect to the scheme, Mr Darby said council staff had "worked very hard getting it to a point that it will be attractive to pretty much anybody in the valley".

Nor would the scheme affect how much developers currently had to pay to create residential sections in the Wanaka ward, with the total contribution to wastewater infrastructure remaining at about $6000 per lot.

Public Health South medical officer of health Dr Derek Bell spoke during the public forum of the meeting, telling councillors piping Cardrona Valley's wastewater to Wanaka was "probably the most effective and efficient way to deal with the problem".

He urged the council to ensure all existing and future development was connected to the scheme.

In a letter to the district council, the Otago Regional Council's resource management director, Dr Selva Selvarajah, also supported the pipeline proposal.

As well as potentially being the cause of the norovirus incidents, continuing to use septic tanks in the valley could affect the quality of the Cardrona River, he said.

The other solution to the valley's wastewater problems which had been considered was a treatment plant at Cardrona.

This option had been disregarded at this stage, because the wastewater would have had to have been treated to a very high standard on-site in order to be discharged onto land, and the cost would have been greater than the proposed pipeline.

The Southland Times