10 Dec 2020

Christchurch City Council has accepted a Hearings Panel recommendation to use highly treated wastewater from Akaroa to irrigate new areas of native trees at Robinsons Bay, Takamātua and Hammond Point.

The Akaroa Treated Wastewater Options Hearings Panel considered 343 written and 65 oral submissions in October.

Four options were presented during consultation on what to do with treated wastewater from Akaroa. Three of the options involved irrigating new areas of native trees at Goughs Bay, Pompeys Pillar or the Inner Bays area of Robinsons Bay, Takamātua and Hammond Point. The fourth option was to continue discharging treated wastewater to Akaroa Harbour.

Hearings Panel chairperson Councillor Sara Templeton says there was no perfect option, but the Inner Bays option offers the best long-term solution.

“This is the end of a long and robust process, where a long list of options was considered before consultation on the final four options,” Cr Templeton says.

“Submitters told us they wanted Council to take a sustainable development approach, and this is the decision that will help us achieve that.”

There was a lot of interest in the idea of a purple pipe system for residential non-potable reuse of highly treated wastewater for garden watering and the like.

“Unfortunately, New Zealand’s regulatory framework doesn’t allow this at the moment,” Cr Templeton says. “The Inner Bays option enables the addition of a purple pipe system in the future, when it becomes possible.

“I’m sure Christchurch City Council won’t be the only local authority pushing for this as climate change brings longer periods of drought and water shortages.”

In the meantime, the Council would use the highly treated wastewater to irrigate its parks and to flush public toilets in Akaroa.

“This is something we can do under current regulations, and it will help mitigate water shortages over summer months.”