17 May 2022

Christchurch City Council is responding to calls from residents living close to the fire-damaged wastewater treatment plant for help to deal with the impacts of the stench.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel and Councillors received a briefing today from Council staff on discussions they have had with partner agencies on what help can be provided to the affected community as quickly as possible.

“Residents living near the plant are bearing the brunt of the stench. They have told us their power bills have gone up because they are using dehumidifiers and fans all the time because they cannot leave their windows open,’’ says Mayor Dalziel.

“Given the exceptional circumstances and the extra costs they are shouldering, it is appropriate that they should receive some financial assistance from the Council. There are days the stench from the plant is utterly overpowering. If you can smell it in Ilam, you can imagine what it is like in Bromley.

“Councillors have indicated that they want to make support available to households in the immediate vicinity of the plant.

“We want to make that support available as quickly as possible. We also want it to be easy for residents to access the support they need. This is why we are working in partnership with existing community and government agencies,’’ the Mayor says.

“The Finance and Performance Committee will receive an update on the situation at the wastewater treatment plant on Thursday 26 May. That update will seek the Council’s ratification on the funding for the community support package discussed today’’

The meeting will be live-streamed.

The Council will run community meetings and drop-in sessions for residents where they can get information and advice. It will also send out regular e-newletters, make information flyers available at local libraries and other community meeting places, and provide regular updates through social media on our progress to reduce the stench from the plant.

Last week Southern Demolition and Salvage Ltd  began moving equipment onto the wastewater treatment plant site so they can get the complex task of removing the rotting material inside the trickling filters under way.  The rotting material is partially responsible for the stench.

It is going to take three weeks to get the removal operation completely set-up. Southern Demolition has to build a ramp to get heavy machinery to the top of the three-storey high concrete trickling filters so they can then reach in and begin scooping out the material.

Southern Demolition will have crews working six days a week, 12-hours a day to get the material inside the trickling filters removed as soon as possible. They are targeting to have the job completed within four months, which means that by early September there should be no stench coming from the trickling filters.

There may still be some smells from the oxidation ponds because the wastewater discharged into them is not treated as well as it was before the fire destroyed the trickling filters.Recent modifications to the wastewater treatment process are improving the quality of the effluent and aerators installed in the oxidation ponds are helping to minimise the smell. The smells from the ponds should gradually reduce over the next few months.