1 Jul 2022

Check here for regular updates relating to the fire-damaged Christchurch Wastewater Treatment Plant and how we are dealing with the issues.

Support for residents

The $200 support package is now open to all residents in the area bounded by Buckleys Road, Pages Road, SH74 and Linwood Avenue. All you need to do is bring a proof of address and a photo ID to one of these providers.

  • Ngā Hau E Whā (250 Pages Road) is open from 9am to 3pm. Phone 03 382 6628.
  • He Waka Tapu (161 Pages Road) is open from 8.30am to 3pm. Phone 03 373 8150.
  • Bromley Community Centre (45 Bromley Road) is open from 9am. Please check their latest opening hours on their Facebook page. Phone 03 389 1657.
  • The Loft (Level 1, Eastgate Shopping Centre) is open from 9am to 5pm. Phone 0800 THE LOFT (0800 865 638).

Next week’s community meeting and webinar details released

On Thursday 7 July Council staff will provide Southshore and South New Brighton residents with an update on progress at the wastewater treatment plant. It’s also an opportunity for residents to ask any questions they might have about the ongoing smells.

The meeting will be held at the South Brighton Community Centre from 7pm to 8:30pm.

Due to the limited space inside the community centre, this meeting will also be livestreamed on the sewercrisisnz Facebook page.

The same information will also be presented at at an online webinar on  Wednesday 13 July from 7.00pm—8.30pm.

You can register for this by visiting ccc.govt.nz/southbrightonwebinar. You’ll then be sent a link to the meeting.

Wind forecast for the weekend

The Metservice is forecasting a fine, settled weekend with frosty starts both tomorrow and Sunday.

A light south-westerly will prevail for most of the weekend, apart from tomorrow during the day, when the wind turns to a light north-easterly.

Cold mornings and light winds means the smells from the wastewater treatment plant could affect residents in New Brighton and South New Brighton over the weekend, but many residents west of the facility could experience smells over the course of the day tomorrow.

No long-term harm expected from wastewater treatment plant stench

Although the stench of the Christchurch wastewater treatment plant is challenging nearby residents, Canterbury’s Medical Officer of Health says it’s highly unlikely they will experience any long-term harm.

At today’s Finance & Performance Committee, Dr Cheryl Brunton told Councillors that while the current hydrogen sulphide levels emitted from the struggling oxidation ponds are affecting residents’ health and wellbeing, she expects these symptoms will subside as the health of the ponds improves over the coming weeks.

Read more.

New drone footage shows progress

Here's some new drone footage, taken today, showing the progress that is being made at the wastewater treatment plant.

Second ramp nears completion

Project staff took this photo yesterday to show the construction progress on the second ramp at the Christchurch wastewater treatment plant.

This ramp is on-track to be completed this week, and will allow the contractors to begin removing the fire-damaged material from the second trickling filter next week.

Wind forecast for Thursday 30 June

The Metservice is forecasting a frosty start to a fine day tomorrow, with showers developing with a southerly change.

A light westerly overnight will turn to a northerly before sunrise before the wind turns to a strong southerly during the evening and overnight. This means smells from the wastewater treatment plant could affect residents in Southshore and possibly South New Brighton tonight and through the day tomorrow. The strong southerly tomorrow evening should dilute the smell and provide a reprieve or all residents.

Transition week for trickling filter work

After making great progress so far, this week is something of a transition period for the contractors removing the material from the fire-damaged trickling filters at the wastewater treatment plant.

All of the remaining pieces of material, concrete plinths and the central rotating assembly will be removed from the first trickling filter.

The second ramp is expected to be completed by Thursday. This will allow the contractors to begin removing the material from the second trickling filter next week.

Later this week the chipper and compactor will be relocated so that everything is in place for next week’s work.

Wind forecast for Wednesday 29 June

The Metservice is forecasting a fine day tomorrow, apart from some morning cloud or frost.

A light westerly overnight will turn to a north-westerly after sunrise, and will prevail for the rest of the day. This means smells from the wastewater treatment plant could affect residents in Southshore and possibly South New Brighton tomorrow.

Update to Finance & Performance Committee

On Thursday, Council staff will provide their regular fortnightly update on the Christchurch wastewater treatment plant to the Finance & Performance Committee. You can watch the livestream of the meeting here from 9:30am Thursday.

Community meetings to be held tomorrow

Council staff will run two community meetings at the Bromley Community Centre tomorrow, to give people an update on our progress at the Christchurch wastewater treatment plant and provide an opportunity to ask questions.

The meeting details are:

  • Tuesday 28 June: 2:00pm – 3:30pm. Bromley Community Centre
  • Tuesday 28 June: 7:00pm – 8:30pm. Bromley Community Centre

Another community meeting will be held next week on Tuesday 7 July at the South New Brighton Community Centre from 7.00pm – 8:30pm.

There's no need to book or RSVP, but if you want more information about the wastewater treatment plant, contact us on (03) 941 8999 or visit our website.

Wind forecast for Tuesday 28 June

The Metservice is forecasting a cold, rainy day tomorrow as a southerly front passes through.

Moderate southerlies are expected to turn south-westerly in the afternoon. This means smells from the wastewater treatment plant could affect residents between the facility, Waimari Beach and New Brighton tomorrow.

Wind forecast for the Matariki long weekend

The Metservice is forecasting a frosty start tomorrow before a mainly fine long weekend.

Light south-west winds will turn to a light easterly tomorrow, before swinging to a northerly overnight, with some gusty periods early on Saturday morning. Winds again turn south-westerly on Saturday afternoon into Sunday morning, before changing to a very light north-easterly on Sunday afternoon and evening.

The varied wind conditions and generally light winds mean the smell from the wastewater treatment plant could affect a large number of residents again over the long weekend, including Bromley, Aranui, New Brighton, Southshore, Woolston, Linwood, Opawa, Waltham, Heathcote Valley, Sydenham, St Martins, Huntsbury, the CBD, and possibly suburbs further southwest.

Community support package update

As at 5pm yesterday our community providers have distributed $464,800 to the residents most affected by the ongoing stench from the wastewater treatment plant in the first two weeks since the Community Support Package opened.

2324 households have received the $200 grant in the form of bill payments, direct bank transfers and Prezzy Cards, which is almost 69% of the eligible population.

None of the four community providers will be open over the long weekend. You can find contact information for these providers here, under the Available Support dropdown.

 

House-testing results received

We have received our test results of the four houses that we sampled, after concerns were raised about a black mould and discolouration on the exterior of some buildings near the wastewater treatment plant.

The results from a reputable external contractor have confirmed there is no mould outside of a common mould that typically grows on the exterior of Canterbury houses. Any mould is consistent with a damp, environment, and can be removed from hard surfaces by washing with warm, soapy water.

However, we have requested our external experts undertake some additional testing to confirm the cause of the discolouration that some houses are reporting. We will publish and share these results once we’ve received them.

You can read the initial results here, under the “Published testing results, reports and meeting action points” dropdown.

First of the two trickling filters now largely empty

With two 20-tonne excavators now working inside the first trickling filter, the contractors removing the material are making great progress.

The contractors have been working six days a week since the material removal began three weeks ago, and as today’s drone image shows, the first of the two trickling filter structures is now largely empty. The contractors will be taking a break over the long weekend.

During the operation, they have reported the smell from the damaged trickling filters has been a lot lower than expected.

Sheet-piling of the second ramp will be completed early next week. This work has been slightly delayed by an underground concrete pipe that needed to be removed, but it won’t affect the overall project timeframes.

Transwaste has also provided eight additional compacting bins so that more filter material is able to be stored on-site after it has been chipped. The bins are usually filled on Saturday and transported to Kate Valley Landfill on Monday morning, as the landfill isn’t open on Saturdays.

Wind forecast for Thursday 23 June

The Metservice is forecasting a frosty start and a fine day tomorrow.

Light north-easterlies and easterlies will prevail for much of the day, swinging around to a light north-westerly overnight. Cold air and light winds mean the smell from the wastewater treatment plant could affect a large number of residents again tomorrow, including Woolston, Linwood, Opawa, Waltham, Sydenham, St Martins, Huntsbury, the CBD, and possibly suburbs further southwest.

Wind forecast for Wednesday 22 June

The Metservice is forecasting a frosty start and a find day tomorrow, with low cloud returning in the evening.

A light overnight south-westerly will turn north-westerly by sunrise, then swing to a light north-easterly from lunchtime for the remainder of the day.  Cold air and light winds mean the smell from the wastewater treatment plant could affect a large number of residents tomorrow, including Southshore, Mt Pleasant, Heathcote Valley, Woolston. Linwood, Opawa, Waltham, Sydenham, St Martins, Huntsbury and possibly the CBD.

Three community meetings confirmed

The Council will hold three community meetings over the next two weeks, to give residents an update on our progress at the Christchurch wastewater treatment plant and provide an opportunity at the end to ask questions.

The meeting details are:

  • Tuesday 28 June: 2:00pm – 3:30pm. Bromley Community Centre
  • Tuesday 28 June: 7:00pm – 8:30pm. Bromley Community Centre
  • Thursday 7 July: 7.00pm – 8.30pm. South Brighton Community Centre

Staff are also in the process of organising a webinar for people who can’t attend the community meetings in person. We’ll share details of this webinar once confirmed.

Wastewater and ocean testing results

We’ve just published the latest round of water-testing results from both the oxidation ponds and our beach sites. You can find all of the information here, under the “Published testing results, reports and meeting action points” dropdown. We’ll update these findings regularly as we receive new information.

Wind forecast for Tuesday 21 June

The Metservice is forecasting showers gradually easing and clearing to a mainly fine afternoon tomorrow.

A light overnight southwesterly will build to a moderate strength tomorrow during the day, then die off at night, similar to what we saw over the weekend. This means the smell from the wastewater treatment plant could affect residents north and east of the facility (including Aranui, New Brighton and South New Brighton) until Wednesday.

Drone shot shows good progress

This drone image we took this week shows the great progress that the contractors are making on removing the material from the first trickling filter. It's estimated that they've removed about a third of the burnt plastic material so far, as well as removing three of the arms that span the top of the trickling filter structure.

Looking at the photo, it might look like more than 30 per cent of the material has been removed, but there is still material banked up against the concrete walls and on the ground.

Wind forecast for the weekend

The Metservice is forecasting a frosty start to the weekend tomorrow, followed by showery weather from the afternoon and through Sunday.

A gentle overnight southwesterly will build to a moderate strength tomorrow during the day, die off at night, then return to a similar strength on Sunday. This means the smell from the wastewater treatment plant could affect residents north and east of the facility (including Aranui, New Brighton and South New Brighton) for most of of the weekend.

How we’ve modified the wastewater treatment plant since the fire

A new video shows how Christchurch City Council has had to modify the Christchurch Wastewater Treatment Plant after the November fire reduced its capacity to effectively treat wastewater by about 60 per cent.

Council staff and contractors have added poly-dosing measures, converted two of the plant’s four clarifiers into aeration basins, and are about to complete installing large underground pipes that bypass the damaged trickling filters.

Sixteen new pumps are also in the process of being installed, which will pump the wastewater from the aeration basins over to the clarifiers. This will greatly improve the effectiveness of the treatment process.

Once all of this infrastructure is in place and operating effectively, the overall quality of the wastewater will gradually improve before it enters the oxidation ponds.

Wind forecast for Friday 16 June

The Metservice is forecasting a drizzly morning clearing to a cloudy day tomorrow.

A gentle overnight southerly will quickly turn north-east from mid-morning and strengthen to moderate winds for the remainder of the day. This means the smell from the wastewater treatment plant could affect residents north of the facility overnight (including Aranui and New Brighton), while people living between the plant, the CBD and the Port Hills might experience more smells after 10am tomorrow.

Wind forecast for Thursday 16 June

The Metservice is forecasting a fine day tomorrow after some early frosts, before showers roll in during the evening.

A gentle northeast wind overnight will turn northwest and strengthen from mid-morning, before swinging westerly, then south-westerly during the afternoon and evening. The calm morning and varying wind direction throughout the day means the smell from the wastewater treatment plant could affect a large number of residents tomorrow.

How can I access the Community Support Package if I’m out-of-zone?

The area eligible for the Wastewater Treatment Plant Fire Community Support Package was defined using the FIDOL system described by the Ministry for the Environment and Christchurch’s predominant wind direction.

FIDOL stands for Frequency (how often someone is exposed to the odour), Intensity (strength of the odour), Duration (length of exposure), Offensiveness (how pleasant or unpleasant the odour is), and Location (the type of land use and activities in the area).

Council staff also took into account the predominant wind direction and how that wind affects different communities.

Christchurch experiences a north-easterly wind 70 per cent of the time (blowing the smells towards the central city) and a south-westerly about 30 per cent of the time (blowing the odours towards the coast).

There is a small pool of discretionary funding available for people living outside the eligible zone.

When considering these applications, staff look at the FIDOL criteria, how the situation is affecting a resident’s health and well-being, their family situation, and their ability to get away from the smells.

The more specific and detailed a request is, the easier it is for the Council’s Community Partnerships’ team to consider.

If you think you qualify for the discretionary fund, contact our Community Partnerships team by emailing communitygrants@ccc.govt.nz.

Sheet-piling of second ramp continues

The contractor in charge of the trickling filter material removal, Southern Demolition and Salvage, continues the sheet-piling of the second ramp so that the excavators can access the burnt material in the second trickling filter.

This work started last week and is on-track to be completed by the end of next week.

Wind forecast for Wednesday 15 June

The Metservice is forecasting a fine day tomorrow after some early frosts.

Winds will predominantly be a light westerly, which means the smell from the wastewater treatment plant is likely to affect those east of the facility, including South New Brighton and possibly Southshore.

International pumps arrive at treatment plant

The pumps we’ve been waiting to arrive from overseas have arrived in Christchurch and will begin being installed today.

The 16 pumps have come via Sweden and China, and arrived in Auckland last week. Holes were then drilled in the flange plates so that they match the configuration at the wastewater treatment plant, before being shipped to Christchurch.

Head of Three Waters, Helen Beaumont says it will take a couple of weeks to install the 16 pumps at the wastewater treatment plant.

“Once these are installed we will be able pump the wastewater from the aeration basins over to the clarifiers. This will greatly improve the effectiveness of the treatment process," she says.

“We also expect that by July the large underground pipes to bypass the trickling filters will be completed. This means that our interim solution to treat wastewater at the plant will be fully operational by July.

“Once all of this infrastructure is in place and operating effectively, the overall quality of the wastewater will gradually improve before it enters the oxidation ponds.

“We expect the biological treatment process to take three to six weeks to mature, and a further three to six weeks for the cleaner wastewater to work its way through the ponds. In turn, this will gradually improve their health and reduce the smells being emitted from them.”

New processing area at Ngā Hau E Whā

Ngā Hau E Whā has informed us that they are now processing Community Support Package payments from the Taranga room at the rear of the marae, rather than the Totara room. The Taranga room is still accessed via the rear carpark.

Free laundry services

Orange Sky is offering an onsite laundry at the Bromley Community Centre every Monday from 11am. They have two washing machines and two dryers ready for people to use, and also offer free hot showers.  

The Student Volunteer Army is also offering a free laundry service for those living with the stench from the wastewater treatment plant.

Timeframes for power bill payments

We’ve received some feedback that power bills we’re paying as part of the Community Support Package are taking longer than expected to be processed.

We send all requests to electricity providers on Fridays, and these are actioned the following week. Usually this takes three or four working days, so payments will be fulfilled by the end of that next week.

Community support package update

As at midday today our community providers have distributed $396,820 to the residents most affected by the ongoing stench from the wastewater treatment plant in the first two weeks since the Community Support Package opened.

1984 households have received the $200 grant in the form of bill payments, direct bank transfers and Prezzy Cards, which is almost 59% of the eligible population.

Bromley Community Centre has changed their hours this week for staff training. On Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday they’ll be open from 9am to 1:30pm. On Wednesday they’ll be open from 3pm to 5pm only.

Outside of these hours people will need to visit He Waka Tapu, The Loft or Ngā Hau E Whā.  You can find contact information for the four community providers here, under the Available Support dropdown.

Wind forecast for Tuesday 14 June

The Metservice is forecasting a mainly fine day tomorrow with a shower or two around late morning.

Winds will be predominantly gusty northwestly and westerly, which means the smell from the wastewater treatment plant is only likely to affect those immediately to the west of the facility, including South New Brighton and Southshore.

Latest air testing results

The latest air testing results are now available. You can view them here.

Drone image from today

This shot taken today shows the smaller excavator now operating inside the first trickling filter, after it was lifted in by crane yesterday afternoon.

This is a great illustration of the huge, complex task that the contractors are undertaking to remove the fire-damaged material.

Excavator working inside trickling filter

Comparing intact and chipped filter material

This photo we took on-site yesterday afternoon shows the size and design of a complete “bale” of filter material (centre). Each of these plastic filter bales is over 1m long, and 50cm deep and wide.

WWTP filter bale and chipped

Wastewater Treatment Plant filter bale and chipped

Each bale is designed with maximum surface area to support the microbial slime that treats the wastewater as it splashes down through the filter media.

We estimate there are at least 100,000 bales that need to be removed from inside the two trickling filters.

The small black mound on the left-hand side shows the volume of one of these filter bales once it’s been put through the chipper and is ready to be compacted and trucked to Kate Valley Landfill.

Chipping and compacting the material means we need to make far fewer truck-loads and helps make the entire process much more efficient.

Wind forecast for the weekend

The Metservice is forecasting a reasonably fine, cool weekend ahead. Light to moderate winds will prevail on Saturday, before the breeze turns to a moderate north-easterly on Sunday.

This means residents along the coast, and between the treatment plant, the city and Port Hills could experience smells over the weekend: coastal areas south of South New Brighton could be affected on Saturday, before suburbs south of the CBD and along the hills are affected on Sunday.

More than half of households receive support

Our community providers have distributed $360,400 to the residents most affected by the ongoing stench from the wastewater treatment plant in the first four days since the Community Support Package opened.

1802 households have received the $200 grant in the form of bill payments, direct bank transfers and Prezzy Cards, which is almost 54% of the eligible population.

We’ll provide a further update on how the numbers are tracking early next week.

You can find contact information for the four community providers here, under the Available Support dropdown.

Bromley Community Centre closing at 4pm today

We’ve been advised that the Bromley Community Centre will be closing an hour earlier than usual today. They will be open from 9:30am to 4pm.

Wind forecast for Thursday 9 June

The Metservice is forecasting a mainly fine day tomorrow with a short period of rain around midday.

Light winds will swing from the north-east to the north-west over the course of the day. This means the smell from the wastewater treatment plant is likely to affect many suburbs south of the facility at some stage.

Residents between the treatment plant, the city and Port Hills could experience more smells overnight and through the morning, before the wind-change blows the odours towards Ferrymead, Heathcote Valley, Mt Pleasant and Redcliffs through the afternoon and evening.

Chipper noise testing results

Noise testing of the chippers at the wastewater treatment plant over the long weekend found the decibel readings to be lower than expected.

While processing the plastic trickling filter material, it produced a noise reading of 79dB, 15m away from the chipper.

On the Shortland Street boundary it gave a reading of 55dB, which is well within the 75dB construction noise limits.

Due to the more open location of the chipper at the second trickling filter, we’re undertaking noise contour mapping to determine the most effective reduction measures.

We’ll make sure these measures are put in place before excavation work begins on the second trickling filter.

Community provider opening hours this weekend

If you’re looking to receive the Wastewater Treatment Plant Fire Community Support Package on Saturday, He Waka Tapu will be the only community provider that will be open. Their hours are 8.30am until 3pm.

Ngā Hau E Whā, The Loft and the Bromley Community Centre are not open on Saturday mornings for community support package payments.

Alternatively, the Bromley Community Centre is open until 8pm tonight so that residents who work full-time are able to drop by to have their $200 power bill payment processed or to pick up a Prezzy Card.

Please remember to bring photo ID or a birth certificate and an account with your address on it. The contact details for the providers are listed at the top of this page.

Trickling filter removal progress

This morning we received this photo showing how the material removal from the trickling filters is progressing.

The contractors undertook a test-run removal on Friday and Saturday, then began the excavation process in earnest. The first truck-loads of chipped and compacted material was sent to Kate Valley Landfill this morning.

Unfortunately, a mechanical failure of the compactor and generator has meant operations have been halted for the day until it’s fixed. We’re anticipating everything will be back up-and-running tomorrow.

So far it’s estimated that between 30 and 35 tonnes (about 1,000 cubic metres) have been removed from the first trickling filter structure. In total there are about 26,000 cubic metres – about the volume of 10 Olympic swimming pools – of material to remove.

Almost 44% of households receive support

Our community providers have distributed $295,800 to the residents most affected by the ongoing stench from the wastewater treatment plant in the first four days since the Community Support Package opened.

Some 1479 households have received the $200 grant in the form of bill payments, direct bank transfers and Prezzy Cards, which is almost 44% of the eligible population.

We’ll provide a further update on how the numbers are tracking later in the week.

You can find contact information for the four community providers here, under the Available Support dropdown.

Wind forecast for Wednesday 8 June

The Metservice is forecasting a mainly fine day tomorrow with high cloud.

Moderate northerly winds will prevail for most of the day. This means the smell from the wastewater treatment plant is likely to affect nearby residents who live south of the facility, including Woolston, Ferrymead, Heathcote Valley and Mt Pleasant.

Bromley Community Centre open until 8pm tonight and tomorrow

With the shipment of Prezzy Cards arriving in Christchurch over the long weekend, the Bromley Community Centre is extending its opening hours until 8pm on Tuesday 7 June and Wednesday 8 June.

This means eligible residents who work full-time will be able to visit the centre to claim their $200 as part of the Wastewater Treatment Plant Fire Community Support Package.

We recommend people phone ahead (03 389 1657) to find out how busy the centre is before they turn up.

For more information on the support package, visit ccc.govt.nz/wastewaterfire

Update on removal and grants

 

This afternoon, Southern Demolition and Salvage Limited undertook a successful test of the process they’ll be using to remove the material from within the trickling filters.

The actual removal of the material starts tomorrow afternoon (Saturday 4 June), where we'll compact it into sealed containers, ready for removal to Kate Valley starting on Tuesday 7 June.

As of today, we've made 1314 grants, which is 38.6% of eligible applicants, totalling $262,800. There will be no distribution over the weekend, and providers will be operating as normal from 9am Tuesday.

Latest air testing results

The latest air testing results are now available. You can view them here.

Community provider opening hours tomorrow

The Bromley Community Centre will be open from 9am to 2pm tomorrow. There are no Prezzy Cards available until a shipment arrives, but people can fill in the form and leave a phone number so that they can be contacted when supplies are replenished.

He Waka Tapu will be open from 8:30am to 3pm

The Loft (9am-5pm) and Ngā Hau E Whā (9am-3pm) will be open and have Prezzy cards available. Ngā Hau E Whā is also able to process direct bank transfers of the $200 support fund.

Prezzy cards are still in very low supply until a shipment arrives, so if this is the method of support you wish to receive, we recommend you call the community providers in advance to find out if they have any available.

Almost 30% of households receive support

Our community providers have distributed $191,200 to the residents most affected by the ongoing stench from the wastewater treatment plant in the first four days since the Community Support Package opened.

Some 955 households have received the $200 grant in the form of bill payments, direct bank transfers and Prezzy cards, which is about 29% of the eligible population.

We’ll provide a further update on how the numbers are tracking early next week.

You can find contact information for the four community providers here, under the Available Support dropdown.

First loads of filter material on the move tomorrow

Work to remove material from the fire-damaged trickling filters at the Christchurch Wastewater Treatment Plant gets under way tomorrow when the first loads will be extracted and sent to the Kate Valley Landfill.

Southern Demolition and Salvage Limited is doing a test run on removing and transporting the material inside the trickling filters tomorrow and Saturday ahead of the full work programme beginning on Tuesday 7 June.

The test run will help establish how many truckloads of material can be excavated and transported each day.

Read more.

Wind forecast for Friday 3 June

The Metservice is forecasting a mainly fine, windy day tomorrow, after some morning showers.

Moderate southwest winds will prevail for the vast majority of the day. Windy conditions winds mean the smell from the wastewater treatment plant will be dissipated significantly, and are only likely to be smelt by nearby residents to the north and east of the facility.

Pumps arrive in New Zealand

The 16 permanent pumps to push water from the newly-converted aeration basins to the clarifiers arrived in Auckland from Singapore at 2pm today.

We currently have a temporary system in place that runs on diesel, whereas the permanent pumps will run on electricity.

The clarifiers remove the organic matter and nutrients from the wastewater so that better-quality wastewater enters the oxidation ponds. This will reduce the organic load on the ponds, and the water quality in the ponds will start to improve over the coming weeks. It will take three to six weeks for this biological treatment process to establish. It takes more than three weeks for water to pass through all six oxidation ponds.

The first eight of these permanent pumps are expected to arrive in Christchurch next week, with the remaining eight arriving the following week.

We’re having these delivered in two batches as the pumps require bolt-holes drilled to suit the flanges on site. This way we can get one clarifier up and running as quickly as possible while the bolt-holes are drilled in the second batch of pumps.

Change of opening hours for community providers

Our community providers of the Wastewater Treatment Plant Community Support Package, He Waka Tapu, Ngā Hau E Whā and the Bromley Community Centre have informed us that they are closing daily at 3pm this week.

The Loft at Eastgate Mall remains open until 5pm during week days. While they don’t have Prezzy cards available, they’re still able to pay power bills and for firewood.

Due to the long weekend this weekend, none of the providers will be open on Saturday 4 June or Monday 6 June.

The Bromley Community Centre still has forms available outside of its doors so that people can take one home to fill out, then return during opening hours.

We’re still hoping that our shipment of Prezzy cards will be arrive on Friday, but will keep you updated on this progress.

13% of households receive support in two days

Our community providers have distributed $85,200 to the residents most affected by the ongoing stench from the wastewater treatment plant in the first two days since the Community Support Package opened.

Some 436 households have received the $200 grant in the form of bill payments, direct bank transfers and Prezzy cards, which is about 13% of the eligible population.

Prezzy cards are still in very low supply, so if this is the method of support you wish to receive, we recommend you call the community providers in advance to find out if they have any available.

We’ll provide a further update on how the numbers are tracking at the end of the week.

You can find contact information for the four community providers here, under the Available Support dropdown.

Wind forecast for Wednesday 1 June

The Metservice is forecasting a mainly fine, windy day tomorrow, after some overnight showers.

Moderate winds will start off from the north-east, before moving to a northerly direction and strengthening from 11am. Windy conditions means the smell from the wastewater treatment plant will be dissipated significantly, and are only likely to be smelt by nearby residents directly south of the facility.

Contractors currently working seven days a week

We’ve received questions as to why our contractor, Southern Demolition and Salvage, is currently working 10-hour days on site, rather than the 12 hours a day that was initially announced.

While they’re preparing the site and undertaking construction activities such as sheet-piling works, they need to work during daylight hours to ensure everything is done safely and without incident.

During this preparation phase, we’ve agreed that they work 10 hours a day, seven days a week. The project remains on schedule.

Once the contractor begins removing the burnt material from the trickling filters, they’ll move to 12-hour days, working six days a week, assuming there are no mechanical failures or weather events that prevent work continuing.

At this stage they’ll be able to begin extracting the filter material next week, although it’s likely they’ll undertake some trial removals over Queen’s Birthday Weekend before work commences in earnest.

Sheet piling of first ramp complete

Our contractors have completed the sheet-piling of the first ramp at the Christchurch Wastewater Treatment Plant, so they can remove the burnt, pungent material from inside the trickling filters.

The first layer of steel ties (internal framing that holds the sheet-piling together) and gravel has been added, with the second and third layers expected to be added over the coming days. This process involves outdoor welding so is weather dependent.

Using the completed ramp, the plan is for the contractors to start a trial removal of the material by Queen’s Birthday Weekend, before the excavation work begins in earnest next week.

Wind forecast for Tuesday 31 May

The Metservice is forecasting a mainly fine, warm day tomorrow.

Light winds will start off from the north-east, moving to a northerly direction from lunchtime. This means people living west of the plant and between the CBD and the Port Hills are likely to experience more smells than those living along the coast. People in the Heathcote Valley might also be subjected to smells in the afternoon.

Prezzy cards in low supply

Due to demand for the Wastewater Treatment Plant Fire Community Support Package, our community providers are already running low on Prezzy cards.

We’ve arranged for more to be shipped from Auckland and these should arrive by the end of the week.

If you’re wanting to receive the Prezzy card rather than having bills paid directly, we ask that you wait a few days before contacting our community providers.

We’re able to pay power bills directly and these can be processed on the spot, with the payments processed within three days.

It’s disappointing to also hear reports of people threatening to steal bills from people’s mailboxes so they can illegitimately access the $200 support payment. For this reason we’ve had to change the application process slightly so that people provide both a bill with a proof of address and a form of photo ID (or another form of ID for verification) when they apply for the support.

We’ll provide further updates when the community providers have received the additional stock of Prezzy cards.

Support package now available

Residents living near the wastewater treatment plan can now access community support funding.

The support package is open to all residents in the area bounded by Buckleys Road, Pages Road, SH74 and Linwood Avenue.

Residents fronting both sides of these roads are eligible for $200 of support.

If you’re visiting one of our community providers to collect the support funding, you’ll need to bring proof of your address and a photo ID.

Covid-19 protocols are also compulsory at each of the centres, and although there’s no need to book a time, we recommend calling in advance to find out how busy the providers are.

The four providers are:

  • Ngā Hau E Whā (250 Pages Road) is open from 9am to 3pm. They’ve requested people park in the rear carpark behind the Marae and collect the grants from the Totara Room. Phone (03) 382 6628.
  • He Waka Tapu (161 Pages Road) is open from 8:30am to 5pm. Phone (03) 373 8150.
  • Bromley Community Centre (45 Bromley Road) is open from 9am to 2:30pm. Phone (03) 389 1657.
  • The Loft (Level 1, Eastgate Shopping Centre) is open from 9am to 5pm. Phone 0800 THE LOFT (0800 865 638).

Published minutes from yesterday’s meeting

We’ve just published the minutes from yesterday’s Finance & Performance Committee meeting. This includes the additional resolutions that Councillors made around the Wastewater Treatment Plant Fire Community Support Package.

You can view the minutes here.

Continuous air sampling meter arrives in Christchurch

A new meter that’s able to undertake continuous sampling of air quality has arrived in Christchurch today and will be put into use immediately.

We’ll test how well it performs and the quality of the results. If it’s fit for purpose we’ll deploy more of these meters so that we can obtain more information around hydrogen sulphide concentrations across the plant and the local neighbourhood.

Latest air quality testing results

The latest air testing results are now available. You can view them here.

Temporary pumps installed at the Wastewater Treatment Plant

We’ve now installed temporary pumps at the wastewater treatment plant to push water from the newly-converted aeration basins to the clarifiers. This brings the aeration basins fully online in our wastewater treatment process.

The clarifiers remove sludge from the wastewater so that better-quality wastewater enters the oxidation ponds. This will reduce the organic load on the ponds, and the water quality in the ponds will start to improve over the coming weeks. It takes more than three weeks for water to pass through all six oxidation ponds.

This temporary arrangement has the same capacity as the permanent solution we’ll install once we’ve received the parts from overseas. The temporary pumps run on diesel, whereas the permanent pumps will run on electricity.

We’re still waiting for confirmation of when the permanent pumps will arrive here in New Zealand and will provide a further update once we have more information.

Wind forecast for the weekend

The Metservice is forecasting a frosty, fine days for both Saturday and Sunday.

Light winds will be predominantly in a north-to-northeast direction across both days, which means people living west of the plant and between the CBD and the Port Hills are likely to experience more smells than those living along the coast.

Early in the morning, the smells could be a little more widespread around the plant before the wind builds.

Air quality testing

We have been getting questions from some residents about how much air quality testing is being done and how do we know the stench won't cause health issues for people exposed to more than the recommended 8-hour Worksafe limits.

We know there are reduced sulphur compounds present, which is typical with a poorly-functioning sewage plant. This is what causes the awful rotten egg smell.

Three rounds of sampling have been taken, and the results have been shared with Environment Canterbury (ECAN) and the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB). We’ll compare theses with ambient air quality (which is the condition or quality of air surrounding us in the outdoors) guidelines rather than Worksafe.

All of this information will be made available at ccc.govt.nz/wastewaterfire

We will continue the air quality testing programme for another four weeks. After this time, in consultation with health authorities and Environment Canterbury, we’ll review what we monitor and where samples are taken.

Testing during the filter removal process

Some residents have also asked whether more frequent air testing when we remove the media. We will have an air quality testing programme in place. After the filter material is removed, and in consultation with health authorities and Environment Canterbury, we'll review what we monitor and where.

Community support package approved

Christchurch City Council has just approved a community support package to assist those living nearest to the plant, who have been bearing the brunt of the stench since the fire at the facility in November last year.

From Monday 30 May, residents who live within the area bounded by Buckleys Road, Pages Road, State Highway 74 and Linwood Avenue will be able to apply for $200 through one of four community agencies to help deal with the impacts of the fire.

About 3300 homes are in this area.

Find out more.

Wind forecast for Friday 7 May

The Metservice is forecasting a frosty start turning into a fine day tomorrow. Winds will be predominantly a light northeasterly, which means people living west of the plant and between the CBD and the Port Hills are likely to experience more smells than those living along the coast.

Work on site

Some of you have asked why our contractors can't work 24-hours a day, seven days a week or in different shifts.

While we want to get the work done as quickly as possible we also need to make sure we’re providing a safe workplace for everyone. There are health and safety issues that would arise with working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Examples include fatigue, lighting, and the ability to respond to an emergency.

Also, Kate Valley can only take hazardous waste Monday to Friday, between 7am and 3pm. Working 24/7 for the extraction of the media would require storage of the media on-site, which would then restrict the movement of people and machinery around the site, causing further risks.

We hope that helps explain the situation. We also wanted to share with you this photo of the progress that is being made on the sheet piling for the ramp.

Decision tomorrow on community support package

Tomorrow the Finance and Performance Committee will finalise the details of the community support package that is being put in place to help residents living nearest the wastewater treatment plant.

The meeting will be live-streamed if you are interested in watching the decision-making. The meeting starts at 9.30am.

We will provide you with an update after the meeting.

Wind forecast for Thursday 26 May

The Metservice is forecasting light to moderate west-to-southwest winds for tomorrow.

This means people living north and east of the wastewater treatment plant and along the coast (including Wainoni, Burwood, Aranui, Waimari, New Brighton and South New Brighton) might experience more smells than other parts of the city.

Sheet piling for access ramp continues

On-site contractor, Southern Demolition & Salvage, is continuing preparations to remove the material from the trickling filters. This photo from yesterday shows how the sheet-piling for the access ramp is progressing.

The contractors will use an excavator at the top of the ramp to reach over the walls of the trickling filter and remove the material.

Wind forecast for Wednesday 25 May

The Metservice is forecasting a weather change tomorrow. After a frosty start with light westerly winds, the wind will change to a strong southerly in the afternoon.

This means people living near the wastewater treatment plant and along the coast can expect to experience more smells in the morning before the winds pick up.

The stronger southerly will dissipate the smells in the afternoon, although residents in Wainoni, Burwood, Aranui and North New Brighton/Waimari might still experience more odours than other parts of the city.

Start work notice

 We’ve just published a Start Works Notice about the material being removed from the trickling filters at the Christchurch Wastewater Treatment Plant. 

We’ve delivered physical copies of this notice to residents nearest to the wastewater treatment plant, who could experience dust and noise as a result of this project.

Specialised pumps scheduled to leave Sweden tomorrow

Specialised submersible pumps to complete the aeration project for the oxidation ponds are scheduled to leave Sweden tomorrow dependent on international logistics and flight availability. The pumps were due to be sent via air freight from Sweden last week but were delayed. 

The pumps were initially scheduled to arrive in April but have been held up due to capacity constraints for air freight.

These pumps are part of the major project at the plant to convert two of the four clarifiers into aeration basins. While the aerators are in place and functioning well, we require the specialised pumps to enable sludge recirculation to complete the system.

Primary treatment (screening, grit removal and primary sedimentation) is up and running at 100% and secondary treatment, using the aeration basins and secondary contact tanks is at approximately 10%. 

This will improve to up to 75% once the specialist pumps have arrived and the system is fully operational.

We expect the pumps to arrive and be installed in June. In the meantime we are installing a temporary pumping system to enable some improvement in treating capacity until the permanent system arrives. Work will be completed this week.

Wind forecast for Tuesday 24 May

The Metservice is forecasting a light, predominantly westerly to northwesterly wind for Tuesday. This means people living along the coast and suburbs between Mt Pleasant and Sumner can expect to experience more smells from the fire-affected wastewater treatment plant than those living in other parts of the city.

Latest air quality testing results

The latest air testing results are now available. You can view them here.

Wind forecast for the weekend

This weekend the Metservice is forecasting a predominantly westerly moderate wind for both Saturday and Sunday. This means people living along the coast can expect to experience more smells from the fire-affected wastewater treatment plant than those living in other parts of the city.

More details released of community support package

We’re proposing to spend up to $1 million supporting the community most impacted by the stench from the city’s fire-damaged wastewater treatment plant.

On Thursday 26 May, the Finance and Performance Committee will be asked to ratify a community support package that will see financial help and other support offered to those living closest to the plant, which is where wastewater from all over Christchurch is treated.

After getting a clear signal from the Mayor and Councillors that they want to respond to local residents’ calls for assistance, staff will be recommending the Council commit up to $1 million to supporting the local community.

Find out more.

Work happening behind the fences

There is lots of work happening behind the fences at the Christchurch Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Our contractors, Southern Demolition, are busy driving sheet piles into the ground in preparation for building the ramp that will allow them to get their heavy machinery to the top of the three-storey high trickling filters.

Once the ramp is constructed, they will be able to start scooping out the rotting material inside the trickling filters. The material will be placed into sealed containers and transported to the Kate Valley landfill.

A contractor works on the sheet piling alongside the trickling filters.

We also have crews working on constructing the trickling filter bypass pipe.

The pipe, once operational, will enable most of the wastewater entering the plant to go through both primary and secondary treatment processes before it is discharged into the oxidation ponds. That should help to improve the health of the oxidation ponds and reduce the odours.

Currently only about a third of the wastewater entering the plant is going through secondary treatment, which is putting a strain on the oxidation ponds, especially as we go into winter when the weather is cooler.

Crews work on the bypass pipe.

Bird-life on the oxidation ponds

We’ve received some questions around the noticeable reduction of bird life on the oxidation ponds over the past weeks.

Here's what our ecologist Andrew Crossland has to say about what is happening:

We have long-term monitoring in place for wetland bird numbers in the oxidation ponds and wider estuary areas and can confirm that numbers on the ponds are indeed very low at the moment.  This is a response by those birds that normally feed on the ponds to the changes in operation of the treatment plant that were necessary following the fire in November. These changes have led to a temporary deterioration in the water quality of the oxidation ponds.

The loss of the trickling filters means that the ponds are receiving much higher loadings of organic matter. This has resulted in a dramatic reduction in midge numbers, a major food source.

The combination of the changes in water quality and loss of food source are thought to have resulted in a dramatic displacement of some wetland bird species (particularly NZ scaup, NZ shoveler, black-billed gulls, black-fronted terns and welcome swallows) to other sites across the region.

Other species able to find alternative food within the wider estuary area (such as grey teal and black swan) and have relocated locally to areas such as the Lower Avon and Heathcote River saltmarshes, Bexley Wetland, the eelgrass beds on the eastern side of the estuary and the Gracilaria weed beds in Heathcote Bay. 

Birds that don’t feed in the oxidation ponds but rather simply rest on the water (like Canada geese) or up in the trees (like cormorants and royal spoonbills) have not been impacted.

Species like godwits, oystercatchers, herons and pukeko that feed only on the estuary or paddocks are still at normal population levels for this time of year.

The recovery plan for the plant is being implemented and we expect to see steady improvement in the quality of the wastewater being discharged to the ponds over the next few months.

As the water quality improves and the midges return, the habitat for the birds will become much more attractive. 

Our ecology and park ranger staff will continue to monitor bird numbers and work with the Three Waters team to get the native water bird carrying capacity of the oxidation ponds back to normal as soon as possible.

Wellbeing workshops

We haven’t received any interest in the two free wellbeing workshops we had offered to the community on May 25 and June 1 so we have decided to cancel them at this time.

However, should the need arise and the community wish for them to be held, we’ll be more than happy to facilitate them in the future. We’re in the process of looking at other options to support the community and will have more information around this tomorrow.