Fears infrastructure won’t cope
Inadequate sewerage infrastructure means it’s not unusual for Whenuapai residents to catch a whiff of the issue in the street.
Now some fear that a provision that allows for subdivision will put even more pressure on septic systems, which are not likely to be upgraded to mains for at least another decade.
Under the Auckland Unitary Plan, the Whenuapai Village area is zoned as a Residential - SingleHouse Zone, meaning property owners can divide sections that are less than a hectare down to 600 square metres as a restricted discretionary activity.
However, the reticulated sewerage system planned for the area under the Whenuapai Structure Plan is not scheduled for development until 2028-2032.
Whenuapai Village Ratepayers and Residents’ Association chairman Kirke Campbell said although the zoning may work well for some areas, it didn’t for Whenuapai, which still relies on septic systems for wastewater treatment.
The potential increase of sewage production and smaller section sizes, alongside existing issues of run-off and poor ground absorption, were cause for concern, he said.
Whenuapai’s soil had little capacity to treat much due to it being clay with minimal top soil, leading to unabsorbed bacteria, nitrates and methane gas, he said.
Regardless of the septic system, Campbell said problems were very common, and newer systems were also failure-prone.
So far two subdivisions have been approved in the village.
Mcilroy said there was no means of stopping people from subdividing their properties, other than changing the unitary plan to prohibit it, but council will not be requesting a plan change.
One of the considerations made in assessing discharge consents for onsite wastewater systems is that a reticulated wastewater network will eventually reach the village as the surrounding land is developed, he said. Due to the size of existing house sites, the soil types and age of the homes’ wastewater systems - with many being pre-2004 - the risk of leakage into the environment would be expected, he said.
Mcilroy said the area’s water quality could be expected to improve once households were connected to a reticulated system.
Auckland Council staff will meet with residents’ association in late February.
Whenuapai still has open drains and septic tanks, and is not expecting wastewater mains until 2028.