Wastewater consents up for renewal

Concerns held by the Hokonui Runanga over wastewater going into the Mataura River may soon be addressed.

Three resource consents allowing the Gore District Council to discharge treated wastewater into the Mataura River are up for renewal, Three Waters asset manager Matt Bayliss said in a report tabled at an assets and infrastructure committee this month.

The council applied to have them renewed in January 2021 but failed to get support from the Hokonui Runanga.

‘‘It believes that the proposed ongoing piped discharge to the Mataura River does not address cultural concerns,’’ Mr Bayliss said.

‘‘Due to this, in June 2021 a technical working group was established to investigate land disposal options.’’

The resource consent for the Mataura wastewater treatment plant expired in May 2021, while the two for the Gore plant expire at the end of this year.

Environment Southland agreed to put the council’s consent application on hold while the working group conducted its investigation.

The investigation, which the council approved in May 2022 with a budget of $231,000, had reached a stage where the working group would be able to produce three to five options to be considered by the council and Hokonui Runanga in early May, Mr Bayliss told committee members.

Cr Neville Phillips asked whether the investigation was on budget.

Mr Bayliss said in his report it was forecast that the overall budget would ‘‘be exceeded by $122,000’’.

Cr John Gardyne asked whether the Gore district was ‘‘the guinea pig’’ in undergoing this process.

Mr Bayliss said wastewater disposal to land had become more common in the last ten to 15 years, especially further north.

‘‘I know that SDC [Southland District Council] have worked through some pretty significant consents recently and had to go down this process.’’

The Hokonui Runanga was a key stakeholder in this process.

‘‘My impression and understanding is they’re very happy with the process that’s been followed and support where we’re at at the moment.’’

The Hokonui Runanga also supported the council’s future plans for wastewater treatment, he said.

In its consent renewal application, the council proposed to expand the existing wetlands at the Mataura wastewater treatment plant by 2027.

It also proposed building a biological nutrient removal plant to replace the Gore oxidation ponds over the next 30 years.

‘‘The Hokonui Runanga believes that the council’s proposed treatment system will provide an acceptable level of ecological treatment,’’ Mr Bayliss said.