A two million dollar upgrade of the Coromandel town waste water treatment plant is expected to protect the district's aquaculture industry by improving the quality of water discharged into the Hauraki Gulf.
Thames-Coromandel District Council has approved the upgrade using Floating Media Technology (FTM), an environmentally friendly process that uses and improves naturally occurring processes to remove contaminants from waste water.
TCDC mayor Glenn Leach said FTM involved suspending certain types of plants in sections on the treatment ponds.
The blocks of plants create an 'eco-system' for bacterial cultures (over 3000 microbes), snails and other invertebrates which help remove more of the contaminants in the wastewater than just ponds alone.
"This is a very 'Coromandel-solution' because of its sustainable qualities and one which will not only further protect our environment, but will also protect our vital aquaculture exports" said Mr Leach.
"The United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) visited the site in 2011 and discussed with us and the regional council the plant upgrades and the discharge parameters they required if we are to export mussels to the U.S."
Mr Leach said the project highlighted the economic importance of the area.
''And the responsibility of Council to treat the wastewater to a high standard, which ultimately ends up in the Hauraki Gulf''.
Mr Leach said the upgrade would save TCDC over one million dollars over three years because of the new system's efficiency and lower operating costs.
Work will begin on the upgrade in early 2013.