Ne­go­ti­a­tions over ponds

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RACHAEL KELLY Only 10 per cent of the sludge in Gore’s ox­i­da­tion ponds has been re­moved and the Gore District Coun­cil is in ne­go­ti­a­tions with the con­trac­tor it en­gaged to carry out the work.

Re­moval of the sludge in the ponds was sched­uled to be­gin in Novem­ber 2016 by North Is­land­based com­pany Hy­dracare, af­ter the con­tract for the work was awarded in Septem­ber 2015.

Work at the ponds has now stopped, but coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Stephen Parry and Gore District mayor Tracy Hicks said in an emailed re­sponse to ques­tions from Newslink that the coun­cil and Hy­dracare are in ne­go­ti­a­tions and it would be ‘‘in­ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment at this time’’.

Hy­dracare has also de­clined to com­ment.

The project was ex­pected to take about five months, but the coun­cil said on Mon­day that only 205 tonnes of dry sludge had been re­moved from the ponds.

The project bud­get was $2.6 mil­lion and $478,175 has been spent to date.

The sludge is re­moved in a liq­uid (slurry) form us­ing a dredge. It is then pro­cessed through a pri­mary de­wa­ter­ing unit that cre­ates ap­prox­i­mately 20 per cent sludge, which looks like wet soil. This sludge is dis­posed at the land­fill.

The vol­ume of Gore’s two ox­i­da­tion ponds is about 240,000m3.

That is the equiv­a­lent of four Olympic sized swim­ming pools, coun­cil said in a press re­lease in Novem­ber 2016.

At that time coun­cil project man­ager Sam Bunt­ing said ‘‘the main pond is presently at about 30 per cent ca­pac­ity, which is when they lose their abil­ity to start to treat the waste­water.

‘‘Con­se­quently there is a greater risk of odour is­sues and a de­cline in the qual­ity of our dis­charge to the Mataura River.’’

It was the first time in 46 years the ox­i­da­tion ponds had been sched­uled to be cleaned out.

Re­moval of the sludge was pre­dicted to in­crease the ca­pac­ity of the ponds and im­prove waste­water treat­ment.

Des­ludg­ing work has stopped at the Gore District Coun­cil’s ox­i­da­tion ponds.

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