Caring for the environment  |  10 May 2019

Christchurch City Council has decided to drop its 2015 appeal to the Environment Court seeking resource consents for discharging treated wastewater into Akaroa Harbour.

The Court had directed that the appeal would be heard in December 2019.

Akaroa Harbour

Akaroa harbour.

A staff report presented to Councillors in the public excluded section of this week’s Council meeting recommended withdrawing the appeal.

Staff said preparing for a hearing in December, seeking consent to discharge into the harbour, was not feasible while still investigating and consulting on other viable options for disposing of Akaroa’s treated wastewater.

Councillors approved the staff recommendation to withdraw the appeal, noting that a harbour outfall is still one of the options being considered.

Head of Three Waters and Waste, John Moore, says withdrawing the appeal does not mean a harbour outfall has been ruled out.

“It is still one of several options we are preparing to present to the community in public consultation later this year,” Mr Moore says. “We will still be able to apply for new resource consents if a harbour outfall is the Council’s decision after consultation and hearings.”

At present, treated wastewater from Akaroa is discharged into Akaroa Harbour at Redhouse Bay via a 100-metre long pipeline.

The consent for the existing wastewater treatment plant at Takapūneke expires in 2020. A new consent will be sought to allow the Council to continue to discharge from the existing plant while the new wastewater scheme is built.

The Council was granted resource consents in 2015 to build and operate a new wastewater treatment plant on Old Coach Road, a new pump station in the boat park at Childrens Bay and to upgrade wastewater mains and three existing pump stations.

Applications for resource consents to build and operate a new pipe and to continue discharging treated wastewater into the harbour were declined. The Hearing Commissioners said the Council had not satisfied a requirement of the Resource Management Act (RMA) 1991 to investigate alternative disposal methods. They also said the Council had not adequately addressed the cultural concerns of Ngāi Tahu.

The Council lodged an appeal in the Environment Court against that decision, but has repeatedly sought adjournments, while it investigated alternative disposal methods.