Big sewerage project gets re­source con­sent

Central Leader - - NEWS - By ANNA LOREN and JOE DAW­SON

A project that will see much of Auck­land’s waste­water de­posited into the Manukau Har­bour has been given the green light.

But op­po­nents are promis­ing to ap­peal against the de­ci­sion and say there are other op­tions that should be con­sid­ered.

In­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion­ers ap­pointed by the Auck­land Coun­cil have granted Water­care re­source con­sent for its huge ‘‘cen­tral in­ter­cep­tor’’ project.

The project in­cludes a 13km un­der­ground tun­nel which will de­liver up to 2 mil­lion cu­bic me­tres of sewage and stormwa­ter to the Man­gere treat­ment plant ev­ery year.

Wa­ter will then be treated and re­leased into the Manukau Har­bour.

The tun­nel will run un­der­neath the seabed and will re­place age­ing pipework that is ‘‘reach­ing the end of its use­ful life’’, Water­care spokes­woman Belinda Petersen says.

A ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant’’ vol­ume of un­treated waste­water could flood the har­bour if the ex­ist­ing pipes fail, she says.

‘‘That con­sid­er­a­tion alone makes this a very im­por­tant piece of work for us.’’

Water­care has also been granted con­sent to dis­charge un­treated waste­water into the har­bour in the event of a plant fail­ure dur­ing a storm.

Con­struc­tion on the project is ex­pected to start in 2017.

The Man­gere Bridge Res­i­dents and Ratepay­ers group and The One­hunga En­hance­ment So­ci­ety is seek­ing le­gal ad­vice on what fur­ther ac­tion it can take to put a halt to the project.

TOES spokesman Jim Jack­son says they are not op­posed to a waste­water sys­tem but would pre­fer a more ‘‘ap­pro­pri­ate’’ one.

‘‘We’re go­ing to ap­peal it,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s not ap­pro­pri­ate to dis­charge un­treated hu­man waste into the har­bour when there is an equip­ment fail­ure,’’ he says.

‘‘They say that will only hap­pen ev­ery 250 years but that could be tomorrow or next week.’’

He has sug­gested ‘‘satel­lite’’ pro­cess­ing plants that could deal with waste­water closer to the source.

‘‘It is pos­si­ble to clean up waste­water to a very high stan­dard.’’

Man­gere Bridge group mem­ber Roger Bald­win says he is dis­ap­pointed the ini­tia­tive has the go-ahead de­spite more than 450 sub­mis­sions against it.

They still have grave con­cerns about the ef­fect large vol­umes of waste­water could have on the har­bour’s wa­ter qual­ity, na­tive bird roosts and plant life, he says.

The group sub­mit­ted a num­ber of al­ter­na­tives to the in­ter­cep­tor but are ‘‘not con­vinced’’ they got a fair hear­ing.

‘‘Water­care had to show that they’d looked at al­ter­na­tives but not that they’d in­ves­ti­gated them in depth.’’

Fel­low mem­ber Ken Duff says the project is ‘‘se­ri­ously flawed’’ from an en­vi­ron­men­tal stand­point.

‘‘We don’t be­lieve that the ecol­ogy of the har­bour has been given proper con­sid­er­a­tion and if you don’t do that, you’ve got a se­ri­ous prob­lem with the fu­ture of the place,’’ he says.

Mr Duff says the group would like to see a full in­quiry into the project be­fore it pro­ceeds.

Mem­bers will be pre­sent­ing their al­ter­na­tives to politi­cians in an ef­fort to sway their opin­ions on the sub­ject.

The cen­tral in­ter­cep­tor is ex­pected to cost about $950m – up from the $800m fore­cast ear­lier in the year.

Water­care spokesman John Red­wood says the lat­est es­ti­mate has been ad­justed for in­fla­tion and the ris­ing cost of goods.

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