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Wastewater decision imminent

The hearing commission into the proposed Te Anau Wastewater Scheme at Manapouri was adjourned yesterday afternoon, with commissioners expected to make a decision on the project in the coming weeks.

Having requesting further technical information from the applicant – Southland District Council – in July, the commissioners re-convened on Monday to hear this information and any submissions to it.

SDC has applied for a consent to build a 19km pipeline and to discharge Te Anau’s wastewater to land and air at a site adjacent to Te Anau Airport Manapouri.

The commission is expected to either decline the consent application, or grant it with stringent conditions.

SDC water and waste assets manager Ian Evans said at the hearing that further investigations of the site had been carried out by the council since the adjournment, as well as by contracted hydrogeologist Simon East.

“The survey identified a further four previously unaccounted-for boreholes. Of these only one was identified as a primary source of drinking water with the remaining three mainly utilised for stock water use,” Mr Evans said.

The evidence suggested that the flow of groundwater from the irrigation site would not affect this one supply of drinking water, he said.

Simon East told the commission that further modelling had suggested any nitrogen leaching into the soil would be less than previously modelled.

Wastewater flows would also likely be less than predicted because of an overestimated future population of the area, Mr East said.

“The fieldwork involved drilling 12 new bore holes, hydraulic testing, survey and other site investigations,” he said. “The majority of effects are less than minor.”

Technical commissioner Rob Potts told the hearing he was happy with the additional information provided by Mr East.

“This is the sort of thing I thought I would see originally,” he said.

Another consultant, HydroServices managing director Anthony Davoren, told the hearing there would be numerous hazards presented by foul weather, with both wind and rain having the potential to disrupt irrigation, and this would require very regular monitoring.

“[Running this site] won’t be for the faint-hearted,” he said. “Any operator will have to be looking forward at the weather.”

Manapouri Community Development Area subcommittee chairman Allan Youldon said it was not possible to say that this consent would have a “less than minor effect on the environment”.

“In general the new evidence presented is at best inconclusive and provides very little, if any, certainty on the questions that were asked of the experts,” Mr Youldon said. “Knowing there is a high level of interest in this issue by people who are not academics or hydrologists… we feel it has been written to confuse and to blur the lack of substance it contains.”

If the consent was to be granted, Mr Youldon requested that it be for no longer that 15 years and unable to be extended, with strict monitoring and frequent liaison between local representatives.

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