Sep­tic tank search on

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Un­reg­is­tered sep­tic tanks in Ti­tahi Bay could be the cause of beach wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion recorded last sum­mer.

Two coastal sites in Ti­tahi Bay were re­peat­edly too pol­luted to safely swim in over the sum­mer, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased two weeks ago by Greater Welling­ton Re­gional Coun­cil.

The sites, near the row­ing club by Onepoto Park, and by Ac­cess Rd at the south end of Ti­tahi Bay Beach, ex­ceeded na­tional recre­ational wa­ter qual­ity guide­lines on six and five oc­ca­sions re­spec­tively.

The prob­lem is likely to be caused by faulty cross-con­nec­tions be­tween sewage and stormwa­ter pipes, Porirua City Coun­cil’s har­bour strat­egy co-or­di­na­tor Keith Calder says.

‘‘ It’s sewage get­ting into stormwa­ter, stormwa­ter get­ting into sewage.’’

Rain­fall of­ten causes pol­lu­tion in the har­bour, as con­tam­i­nants are washed off ur­ban ar­eas and farm­land into the wa­ter, but last sum­mer’s pol­lu­tion did not cor­re­spond to rain­fall. ‘‘It’s com­ing from some sort of pipe sys­tem.’’ Sep­tic tanks in Gloam­ing Hill are sus­pected as a cause of the con­tam­i­na­tion, which the coun­cil is cur­rently in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

Be­fore 1940 sep­tic tanks did not have to be reg­is­tered with the coun­cil, so Mr Calder’s first job is to find the tanks, as the coun­cil has no record of them.

‘‘It will take a long time to get to the bot­tom of it, no pun in­tended,’’ he says.

Once lo­cated, any pipe leaks will be re­paired us­ing $2 mil­lion set aside for pipe re­pairs this year, part of a $30m coun­cil bud­get over the next 10 years, Mr Calder says.

‘‘There’s now a fixed plan to up­grade the sys­tems.’’

There is no se­ri­ous heath risk from the pol­lu­tion, as the af­fected ar­eas are not pop­u­lar swim­ming spots, he says.

A num­ber of waka ama row­ing groups launch from the Onepoto site, but are well aware of the con­tam­i­na­tion is­sues.

Bac­te­rial and vi­ral pathogens were found in the wa­ter last sum­mer, in­clud­ing E. coli, sal­mo­nella and campy­lobac­ter, and bathers risk ill­ness and in­fec­tion at peak pol­lu­tion times, he says.

‘‘Cer­tainly there’s some sick­ness and some in­fec­tion from cuts.’’

Beach users should avoid the wa­ter af­ter heavy rain­fall any time of year.

‘‘The gen­eral rule is don’t go cov­er­ing your­self in har­bour wa­ter af­ter rain­fall.’’

Coun­cil se­nior en­vi­ron­men­tal health of­fi­cer Nick Mac­don­ald has not heard of any sick­ness re­sult­ing from Ti­tahi Bay’s wa­ter pol­lu­tion.

The coun­cil puts warn­ing signs on beaches as soon as pol­lu­tion is recorded two days in a row, he says.

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