THE Kepler block is the most viable disposal site for treated wastewater within the timeframe, the Southland District Council’s Te Anau wastewater discharge project committee has agreed.
At a meeting in Te Anau last week, the committee considered the suitability of possible sites offered by members of the public for the disposal of treated wastewater.
The council received eight expressions of interest, which had been evaluated by independent specialists e3Scientific.
“We took on board the specialists’ advice and the issues around the eight possible sites and agreed that the Kepler block is the most viable site,” Southland District Mayor and committee chairman Gary Tong said.
“It has not been easy, nor the option that some committee members were hoping for, but there has been a lot of effort that has gone into exploring whether there were any viable alternative sites.”
The Southland District Council (SDC) was considering alternative sewerage schemes for Te Anau because its 10-year consent to discharge into the Upokerora River and from there into Lake Te Anau had expired.
Manapouri’s Kepler block was the original site identified by the SDC for its new sewerage scheme, which had been consented by Environment Southland.
The proposal involved piping treated wastewater from the Te Anau sewage treatment works 18km to Manapouri and spraying it on to the Kepler block, north of Te Anau Airport.
A maximum of 4500 cubic metres would be sprayed daily from two large pivot irrigators.
The project, which also included upgrading the treatment works, had originally been estimated to cost between $10 million and $12 million.
The committee would further consider if an alternative option to the consented centre pivot irrigation method should be recommended to the council and review the final business case at a meeting on November 28, which the council would consider when making its decision at its meeting on December 13.
A group called Fiordland Sewerage Options (FSO) was set up in 2014 by residents opposed to SDC’s original plan, primarily concerned about the odour, impact on groundwater, the cost and the negative perceptions of tourists.
FSO co-ordinator Ruth Shaw said the group thought there would have been more investigation.
“We are staggered and shocked [the decision] happened so quickly.”
FSO was still concerned about the quality of the water which would be piped on to the Kepler block, and there were still some options for disposal the council needed to consider, she said.
The FSO committee would meet today to discuss how the decision had been made, the options for disposal and what FSO’s next steps would be, she said.
“It has been a very long, hard road, and we are still trying to get what is best for both communities, Manapouri and Te Anau.”