‘It’s not ac­tu­ally the farm­ers’


Farm­ers and de­vel­op­ers deny con­tam­i­nat­ing the Kaipara Har­bour and so does Water­care.

He­lensville res­i­dent Bon­nye John­son’s fam­ily had five gen­er­a­tions of fish­er­men who fished the Kaipara Har­bour. She claimed har­bour con­tam­i­na­tion was caused by the He­lensville Waste­water Treat­ment Plant.

‘‘Every­one blames the farm­ers. And it’s not ac­tu­ally the farm­ers,’’ she said.

John­son said the smell com­ing from the waste­water sys­tem was ‘‘pu­trid’’ and she had seen ‘‘black streak about 12-foot wide’’ com­ing out of the sew­er­age gates.

But Water­care spokesper­son Brent Evans de­nied the waste­water sys­tem was con­tam­i­nat­ing the har­bour and said no sludge was dis­charged into the river or har­bour.

He said the plant fol­lowed re­source con­sent con­di­tions in­clud­ing the dis­charge vol­ume not ex­ceed­ing 5,500 cu­bic me­tres per day. Water­care was granted re­source con­sent in April 2012 to up­grade the 4.1 hectare plant on the Kaipara Coast High­way. The plant dis­charged into the Kaipara River, which flowed into the har­bour.

The con­sent said the up­grade would re­sult in ‘‘sub­stan­tial de­creases in bio­chem­i­cal oxy­gen de­mand be­ing dis­charged to the Kaipara River’’.

Evans said Water­care had pro­gres­sively up­graded the plant in­clud­ing a new in­let screen, biofil­ter and caged-brush aer­a­tors had been in­stalled and the out­fall pipe that dis­charged treated waste­water had been re­placed. The up­grade was com­pleted in Septem­ber 2015. Where he had not re­searched waste­water con­tam­i­na­tion in the Kaipara Har­bour, Niwa marine ecol­o­gist Dr Mark Mor­ri­son said it was es­pe­cially un­der stress from sed­i­men­ta­tion and wa­ter qual­ity. He said vis­i­bil­ity was de­grad­ing, mak­ing it harder for plants that snap­per used for shel­ter to grow.

Treat­ment plants that pu­rify wa­ter to a high stan­dard can min­imise the risks of harm to wa­ter­ways, Niwa’s web­site said. It also said treat­ment plants can sig­nif­i­cantly im­pact the en­vi­ron­ment and fish.

Evans said the waste­water from the treat­ment plant was treated to a ‘‘very high stan­dard’’ and un­der­went more scru­tiny than other ac­tiv­i­ties around the har­bour. The plant dis­charged ‘‘tiny’’ vol­umes of waste­water into the Kaipara Har­bour when com­pared to other Water­care plants.


Sed­i­ment plume dis­pers­ing into the Kaipara Har­bour from the Ho­teo River.

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