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Small start urged for water quality improvement

15 Dec 2010

Small start urged for water quality improvement

The water quality of the region should improve over time if a small-scale start is made at the right place and followed by steady improvements.

Gisborne District Council project manager Peter McConnell told the wastewater management committee on Tuesday that given adequate funding, good progress in water quality could be made by the council and community working together.

He said that the nearly-completed Banks Street wastewater treatment plant, with its more-efficient milliscreens and biological trickling filter system, was one part of improving water quality in the bay. In another 18 months, ultraviolet disinfection would be introduced to greatly reduce bacteria levels in the treated wastewater being pumped 1.8km to sea.

He outlined a draft scoping document produced for the Turanganui a Kiwa Water Quality Enhancement (TAKWQE) project – initiated as a condition of the resource consents for wastewater treatment and disposal. This document included an environmental stock-take of the current environment with regard to rivers, inshore coastline and the bay, and the potential sources of contamination.

“This stock-take includes methods for improvement in the various catchments and around the bay. The document also gives reference to other programmes in New Zealand.  “This improvement study is not isolated. We have a draft programme of improvements with rough costs. We need to get external funding for the project provided by a number of agencies.”

Mr McConnell referred to improvements achieved as part of the Whaingaroa harbour restoration project in Raglan, which features on the website www.harbourcare.co.nz(external link)  Within 15 years, more than one and a half million trees have been planted, and the ecology of the harbour and its fishery, and biodiversity habitat have been dramatically restored.  “This shows what can be done by starting on a small scale with input from the community. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We need to work with others already doing good work including our regional side of council.”

In response to a question by councillor Roger Haisman, he said the TAKWQE project would work in with the newly formed Freshwater Advisory Group.   Committee chairman Bill Burdett, although admittedly pessimistic in view of a “raging, uncontrollable ” Waiapu River, was impressed with what was being achieved around the country.  “I thought you couldn’t do anything but after reading this report, I can see it could happen.”

Mr McConnell said the project was in everyone’s interest.  “The soil type is against you here and it’s ending out in the bay.  It needs a change of mindset and the realisation that this is very long-term.”