Wellington Scoop

What’s wrong with the systems?

pollution in titahi bay

Opinion by Your Bay Your Say
For three years, Your Bay Your Say has brought awareness and transparency to the Titahi Bay and Porirua community about the not-fit-for-purpose Porirua Wastewater Treatment Plant, where there’ve been numerous malfunctions, bypasses for UV cleaning, and overflows of partially treated and raw sewage in heavy rain that discharge 700m from the popular Titahi Bay beach.

This week, Wellington Water will be launching an independent review into the operations of the Porirua Wastewater Treatment Plant and its three other treatment plants.

Eugene Doyle (Ōwhiro Bay) has commented on the review decision by saying:

“Communities need to be on the review panel and not just consulted … [The review] is a vindication for communities like Titahi Bay and Owhiro Bay that have suffered so much from contamination, misinformation, disinformation and lack of information over many years”.

Wellington Water say that the operators Veolia have not notified them of some discharges and plant malfunctions causing sludge issues, even though Wellington Water manage and report regularly to Councils and the consent authority/Regional Council on routine maintenance.

Wellington Water has also advised they have been using large tankers to ship heavy loads of sludge from Porirua to the Silverstream landfill and this will continue until the end of the year. Why has it taken nearly three months for Wellington Water to speak up about this?

Due to this review, they will now pause the resource consent process for the Porirua plant until the independent panel have finished their audit of Veolia. A total of 1371 submissions were made by the public, voicing their concern about an ageing, broken plant, and a consent that is a licence to pollute and does not protect the environment.

Despite Wellington Water and the Porirua Council announcing they have lost faith in their treatment plant operator, the reality is the Porirua Treatment Plant has been deprived of major upgrades for years and consequently has under-performed for years. Wellington Water was operating and managing the Porirua Plant before they employed Veolia in 2019, and their performance had been poor as well.

We believe this review is more about Wellington Water deflecting the consequences of a not-fit-for purpose Plant and not accepting responsibility for mis-managing their operators.


  1. Michelle J Laurenson, 24. October 2021, 19:27

    Your Bay Your Say has always been supportive of investment in the Porirua wastewater and stormwater network, but not at the expense of investment in the Porirua Treatment Plant. The new $50million septic storage tank in the city centre, on an earthquake fault with $600,000 set aside for planting, was deemed more important than a new aeration basin to treat sewage, or new pipes in the network to take sewage away from the city centre.

  2. Paula Birnie, 24. October 2021, 21:20

    How convenient that Wellington Water now has a sacrificial lamb in Veolia to blame for their incompetence. PCC and Wellington Water are equally responsible for this mess. Lack of funding in infrastructure and wasted millions on reinventing a storyline through an 800 page document containing inaccurate and at times questionable data is their only achievement to date. Porirua ratepayers deserve better, and need Councillors who actually understand good governance and are prepared to challenge this nonsense.

  3. Henry Filth, 25. October 2021, 6:32

    So if Veolia get dumped, who takes over?

  4. Brian Warburton, 25. October 2021, 10:08

    Overflowing manholes; discharges of untreated sewerage from the plant; under capacity and failing stormwater and sewerage networks; bacterial counts at the beach through the roof.

    The public does not just “expect better than this”, it deserves better than this. Meanwhile the council is hell bent on making the situation worse. It needs to get the infrastructure issues addressed BEFORE it encourages more urban development.

  5. michael, 25. October 2021, 10:54

    Essentially the buck stops with the councils. Under the Local Government Act they are charged with meeting “the current and future needs of communities for good-quality local infrastructure, local public services and performance of regulatory functions in a way that is most cost-effective for households and businesses”. They have failed in this respect and blame everyone else instead of taking full responsibility for the mess we are in.

  6. Jim Mikoz, 25. October 2021, 14:57

    The review of all of the plants’ operations should have been corrected in 2003 when GWRC made a mess of the Moa Point and WCC resource consent conditions that called for waste water samples to be taken half a meter below the sea surface. Now WW take samples 24 hours after a waste water overflow, yet in that time there has been two complete tide changes. Of course they will not record any waste water on Titahi Bay beach. Now I read that Porirua waste sludge is being taken to the Silverstream tip which only just received a resource consent as waste water leaks out of the tip into the Hutt River after rain and not only do dogs die in the Hutt River but all water entering the Hutt Groundwater System just past Stokes Valley contaminates our drinking water with chemicals that cannot be removed at the Waterloo treatment plant. This plant has to discharge a million liters of water before the artesian water runs clean enough to be treated. GWRC had a pipe laid across land into the Hutt River to carry the water away. An independent enquiry has a lot of issues to uncover or hide once again from the public.

  7. D'Esterre, 25. October 2021, 15:54

    Henry Filth: “So if Veolia get dumped, who takes over?” Three Waters. But I understand that its Board doesn’t want to get involved in water management, which is why it has contracted it out to Veolia.
    Really: you couldn’t make up this stuff, could you! The producers of “Clochemerle”, all those years ago, would conclude that somebody was interpreting that programme as a “how-to” manual.

  8. Henry Filth, 29. October 2021, 4:27

    So D’Esterre, who makes up Three Waters? Where does the country suddenly find the capable, experienced people needed to run a national body, and three regional bodies?

    Or do they just outsource it to Deloittes who in turn outsource it to Veolia again?