The appointment of a contractor to remove the burnt, offensive-smelling filter media from the fire-damaged tanks at the Christchurch Wastewater Treatment Plant is being fast-tracked.
“Normally we would invite open tenders for a project of this size, but we know that the smell from the burnt filter material is causing a lot of distress and anxiety to people, particularly those living nearby,” says Christchurch City Council’s General Manager of Infrastructure, Planning and Regulatory Services, Jane Davis.
“We want the filter media removed as soon as possible, so we’ve decided to directly appoint a contractor rather than go out for tenders. This will save us considerable time and we’re working closely with our insurers to ensure the processes around our recovery works remain robust.
“However, it is important for people to understand that removing the filter media won’t be a quick job. We won’t know exactly how long it will take until we have appointed the contractor and agreed on the methodology, but at this stage we anticipate it could take as long as seven months.
“Unfortunately, there is likely to be an increase in odours from the filter media during the extraction process as we’ll be disturbing the rotting material and exposing it to the elements.
“We know this is the last thing that residents want to hear. We totally understand that people are fed-up with smell and just want it gone. We know it is tough and we will be exploring a range of options and initiatives to help people affected by the odour over the coming months.''
Ms Davis says since the fire at the plant in November, the Council has been working to compensate for the loss of a key part of the wastewater treatment process and to minimise the smells from the plant.
“The smells have been coming from two sources – the fire-damaged trickling filters where there is burnt, rotting material, and the oxidation ponds,” Ms Davis says.
“The reason why the oxidation ponds have been smelling is because the effluent being pumped into the ponds isn’t as highly treated as it was before the fire, when the plant was fully operational. We’ve had to modify the plant and find alternate ways of improving the quality of the effluent, which has taken time, but we are expecting to see a significant reduction in the smells from the ponds in the coming weeks.
“I’m sorry that residents have had to endure these unpleasant odours. We are working hard to resolve the situation because we know how much it is impacting on people’s lives,’’ Ms Davis says.
For more information on the Council’s recovery plan for the Christchurch Wastewater Treatment Plant, news and updates, visit ccc.govt.nz/wastewaterfire.