Central Hawke’s Bay council has put aside only $100,000 to fix the Waipawa Wastewater Treatment Plant, despite the fact it may cost much more than this.
CHBDC’s communications officer Ethna Renner said the figure was cited yesterday at the conclusion of a prosecution bought against the CHBDC in the Environment Court by the regional council for a breach of consent.
In addition to convicting the district authority, Judge Craig Thompson issued an enforcement order which will see an independent review conducted of the WWTP and $100,000 spent on fixing it.
He also ordered CHBDC to pay $7,500 towards the regional council’s court costs.
Renner said Judge Craig Thompson agreed with the two councils approach and issued an enforcement order that will see CHBDC commission an independent review of the Waipawa WWTP, and implement recommendations to a cap of $100,000, which will be used to implement a long-term solution to the plants ongoing problems.
The $100,000 was in lieu of a potential $600,000 fine the CHBDC could have been slapped with for discharging contaminant containing E. coli into the Waipawa River at least six times from November 2015 to November 2016.
According to its consent the CHBDC is only allowed five such breaches in a 12 month period.
She said the district council pleaded guilty to the charge laid against it by its regional counterpart last November over a technical breach at the Waipawa plant.
When asked why there has been a cap placed on the fix, Renner said that CHB council can spend more than $100,000 “but the enforcement order highlights a $100k cap”.
“If the recommendations are above 100k which is the amount council has allocated towards implementing recommendations, council officers will be presenting this to council and looking to include additional spend in the upcoming Long Term Plan 2018-2028 process,” she says.
When News Collective asked for a copy of enforcement order – the order Renner was referencing – the communications officer said the council’s technical services manager attended the court case today and “mentioned that he has not received an official signed copy from the court”.
CHBDC’s chief executive Monique Davidson said CHBDC is committed to ensuring that the Waipawa WWTP continues to comply with the limits in the resource consent conditions for the plant.
“[Council] is committed to taking seriously any recommendations made from the independent review,” she said.
Renner said since last November, the Waipawa WWTP has been conforming and meeting consent expectations.
“Discussions have taken place between HBRC and CHBDC in relation to the cause of the discharges that resulted in the prosecution, the remedial measures that were implemented by CHBDC,” she said.
“In particular, what further works should be implemented to address any issues arising in relation to the Waipawa WWTP, having regard to the fact that any costs associated with such proceedings are ultimately borne by both councils' ratepayers.”
She said the outcome of these discussions has been an agreement that, rather than HBRC seeking the imposition of a fine, ratepayer funds would be better spent on commissioning an independent technical review of the Waipawa WWTP with a view to implementing any recommendations that may be made for improvements or upgrades.