Wellington Scoop

Regional Council says it’ll cost “millions of dollars” to replace ageing sewage pipes

Press Release – Greater Wellington Regional Council
A number of recent unplanned sewage discharges have caused widespread concern among communities, as well as confusion about who’s responsible for the region’s stormwater networks.

Regional Council Environment Committee Chair Penny Gaylor says it is important for the public to be aware of each organisation’s role in dealing with sewage discharges that come through stormwater systems as a result of overflows to stormwater, cross connections (wastewater pipes being inappropriately connected into the stormwater network) or bust pipes.

“The Regional Council is the regulatory authority on the stormwater systems throughout the region – which means it is our responsibility to regulate the quality of the water that comes out at the end of the pipes across the network.

“City and district councils hold the consents for the stormwater network, Wellington Water operates the networks on behalf of city and district councils, and then it is our job to ensure the quality of the water that comes out at the end is in compliance with the consents given,” Cr Gaylor says.

Under those consents Wellington Water has a responsibility along with city and district councils to manage acute effects of discharges on human health – this includes putting signs and information out when water is not safe to swim in and also investigating and subsequently actioning any contamination issues with such effects.

“In terms of the ecological effects of sewage discharges, monitoring is carried out by the regional council and Wellington Water under the Resource Management Act,” Cr Gaylor says.

There are some ongoing investigations which will determine whether stormwater and wastewater consents have been adhered to. Once these investigations are completed the council will determine what, if any action to take.

“In terms of actions we can take as a regional council, this can range from a formal warning or education type response, to infringement notices or going as far as prosecuting for more serious breaches.

“The biggest issue region-wide is aging infrastructure which is likely to cost district and city councils millions of dollars to replace,” Cr Gaylor says.

Council Chair Daran Ponter says “region-wide many councils face issues with aging pipe infrastructure which they would need to consider in setting their rates for 2020/21 and beyond”.

“Greater Wellington does not comment on the specifics of ongoing investigations until all the facts have been established and a clear course of action has been decided.”

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  1. Andrew, 13. February 2020, 16:57

    Wellington City Council says it’ll cost “millions of dollars” to build a white elephant convention centre

  2. michael, 13. February 2020, 18:39

    Councillor Ponter, we do not need to be told the problem is aging pipe infrastructure – we all know! The issue has been council unwillingness to prioritise their basic responsibilities to meet the current and future needs of communities for good-quality local infrastructure. Proper long-term planning should have recognised and confirmed the need to ensure a full replacement programme was well underway over “nice to have” projects like the recent $200 million convention centre, which will gleam brightly and empty most of the time. So off you go on your investigations to hand out formal warnings etc to others, but perhaps looking closer to home would be far more valuable and effective!

  3. Neil Douglas, 14. February 2020, 10:46

    GWRC should stick to fixing its own problems. Even better, abolish GWRC and go back to river catchment boards with City/District council representation and create a Public Transport Authority to look after buses and trains.