16 Jul 2021

A $74 million project to develop a new wastewater scheme for Akaroa is under way.

Christchurch City Council approved a hearings panel recommendation to develop the Inner Bays option consulted on in August 2020.

The new system – the Akaroa Reclaimed Water Treatment and Reuse Scheme – will reuse treated wastewater to irrigate new areas of native trees and plants at Robinsons Bay, Takamātua and Hammond Point, and to irrigate public parks and flush public toilets in Akaroa.

“Preliminary work on this project has started, with the focus on the many things we need to attend to before we start building anything,” says the Council’s Head of Three Waters and Waste, Helen Beaumont.

“The most significant of these is to prepare our resource consent applications, which we plan to lodge in the first half of next year.”

Engineering consultancy firm Stantec has been employed to complete the assessment of environmental effects, which is a vital aspect of the application.

Ms Beaumont says the new scheme is dispersed over four sites and the project team has been negotiating with landowners to buy the land needed. A farm on Sawmill Road has been purchased, and negotiations continue with the owners of the other three sites.

Community Reference Group

Councillors asked that a community reference group be set up for the project.

The terms of reference for this group have now been set by Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū Banks Peninsula Community Board, and the project team is now seeking applications.

The group will comprise an independent facilitator, a Community Board member, two representatives of Ōnuku Rūnanga and up to five people from the local community. They will work with members of the Council’s project team.

Their role will be to advise the project team of community concerns, and to share ideas to enable the project to be as beneficial as possible to the community. This may be through opportunities for improvements around recreation, heritage, education, ecology, landscape and the like.

“We’re keen to hear from positive people who have good ideas and a passion for Banks Peninsula,” Ms Beaumont says. “We are genuinely keen to add value to this project and make it the best it can be for the community.”

The group will help as the project team develops plans for the three irrigation areas in the Inner Bays area and the wetland area bounded by Old Coach Road and the Christchurch-Akaroa Highway.

Final membership of the group will be confirmed by the community board in August, and the group will stay in place until the resource consent applications are lodged.

More information about this group and how to apply is on the Council’s website at ccc.govt.nz/akaroa-wastewater-scheme

Leaky pipes and connections

A $3.2 million project is also under way in Akaroa to reduce the inflow and infiltration of groundwater and stormwater into the wastewater network.

This is water that enters the system through leaky pipes, gutter downpipes and household gully traps that receive surface water.

Ms Beaumont says reducing this unwanted water in the system will help to lower the storage needs for the new wastewater scheme and will reduce raw sewage overflows to the harbour in wet weather. 

The project team has taken a closer look at how wastewater from the Council’s water supply treatment plant at L’aube Hill contributes to the overall volume of wastewater in the network.

“This is water being sent to the wastewater network from the water supply treatment plant when it flushes and cleans its filter systems,” Ms Beaumont says. “The team has identified opportunities to improve the efficiency of plant processes which is expected to reduce this flow.”

She says householders in Akaroa can help to reduce the extra water in the wastewater system and the number of raw sewage overflows to the harbour by addressing leaky pipes and connections on their private land.

“We have visited 119 properties in Akaroa to check for problems with private property connections,” she says. 

“This identified issues such as broken pipes in household connections, tree roots breaking into pipes and roof downpipes connected into the sewer network.

“We’ll be contacting individual property owners to let them know what the issues are and outlining the options for resolving them.”