Couple raises stink over sewage mist

20:54, Aug 31 2014

A Lincoln couple concerned at sewage mist possibly being sprayed from valves beside their lawn have forced a consent process after a $3000 legal battle and a seven-month community campaign.

The Selwyn District Council (SDC) wants to use an adjoining easement to install two air-release sewage valves.

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Nyki McQueen said the valves beside their two hectare property would pump like an aerosol "up to 40 litres of gas and contaminants up to 13 times an hour, 24 hours a day each".

"I have not stood by one of these valves but I have it on good authority from over six people that have, that they absolutely stink."

The McQueen's seven-month protest to Environment Canterbury (ECan) has been more than an objection to smell.


"The point here is not that people have complained, it is that ECan are committing an offence by not enforcing the consenting of these valves." The couple's legal advice was that even with consent, SDC had no right to discharge air on to their property.

The McQueens understand more than 30 other sites around Selwyn could have non-compliant valves. They have been on a district-wide campaign against the installation process, including a petition to local MP - and Environment Minister - Amy Adams.

ECan chief executive Bill Bayfield said initial advice to the council, waiving consenting, had been a "mistake". It had offered to pay the McQueens' legal costs and if SDC wanted to install a sewerage valve on the McQueen's property, ECan would require a consent process.

SDC assets manager Murray Washington said it had suggested the valves discharge to an adjoining "sewerage management site" on SDC-owned land.

Washington said the composition of the air valves discharge was typically highly diluted and well below levels which could be considered potentially detrimental. "The majority of the material in such systems is generated from washing machines, dishwashers, baths, showers and may have a slightly sweet odour."

Bayfield said ECan regretted not being able to agree on a solution with the McQueens.

The Press