We are building a new wastewater system for Akaroa. The new treatment plant will be next to the water supply reservoir on Old Coach Road. It will use modern techniques to treat Akaroa’s wastewater.

Akaroa Harbour View

The new wastewater treatment plant will replace the existing plant at Takapūneke Reserve and the outfall discharging to Akaroa Harbour.

All wastewater leaving the new plant will be treated to ensure it is safe to reuse to irrigate parks and flush public toilets in Akaroa and to irrigate new areas of native trees and plants at Robinsons Bay, Hammond Point and Takamātua.

Sign up to receive the latest news on the project

The Community Reference Group established for this project has completed its work. Members did a great job, raising issues of concern to the community and suggesting how these could be mitigated or overcome.

The group was made up of five community representatives, two rūnanga representatives and two community board members, with support from two members of the project team and an independent facilitator.

They gave us a wide range of advice and suggestions on the scheme, and ideas for how we could improve certain aspects. They were particularly enthusiastic about the move to use storage tanks instead of storage ponds. These tanks could be covered and sited further up Robinsons Bay valley away from the immediate neighbours.

The group said tanks would be more acceptable to the community as they mitigate risks associated with storage ponds, such as dam break, odour, insects and visual effects. It would also prevent rainwater from adding to the amount of treated wastewater to be irrigated.

The Community Reference Group has documented the work it did, the advice given to us and the reasons behind that advice [PDF, 226 KB]

Leaky pipes and connections

We have a $3.2 million project underway in Akaroa to reduce the inflow and infiltration of water from other sources into the wastewater system. This work is progressing well and we expect to have it completed this year.

This unwanted water enters the system through leaky pipes, gutter downpipes and household gully traps that receive surface water. Improving this problem was a high priority for many submitters during our consultation in 2021.

Our goal is to reduce the volume of groundwater and stormwater flowing into the wastewater network. Having less of this water in the system will reduce raw sewage overflows to the harbour in wet weather. It will also reduce the storage capacity needed to hold treated wastewater during periods of wet weather when we are unable to irrigate.   

The work has included repairing 24 manhole structures throughout Akaroa. New covers have been installed and cracks and other damage repaired.

We’ve looked at 133 laterals we suspected were leaking. These are the pipes that connect private properties to the Council’s wastewater network. About half of these had issues and half did not, and about a quarter of those with issues are on private land.

Buying the land we need

The new scheme is dispersed over four sites in the Inner Bays area.

We have now bought most of the land we need, including a farm on Sawmill Road.

We expect to lodge our resource consent application in July 2022.

A critical part of preparing our application is assessing the environmental effects of our plans for the new wastewater scheme. We engaged consultancy firm Stantec to complete this work for us.

Consents are approved for the new wastewater treatment plant on Old Coach Road, the new pump station at the Childrens Bay boat park and to upgrade the wastewater network of pipes and connections.

We now need consent for the rest of the project, including to:

  • Discharge treated wastewater to land (to irrigate trees).
  • Store treated wastewater in tanks and in a wetland.
  • Store untreated wastewater in a storm buffer tank at the Old Coach Road site.
  • Construct a new wetland and storage tanks.
  • Discharge treated water to the cricket ground and north Akaroa parks for irrigation.

We intend to lodge these as a single application.

People will be able to provide feedback on the application via Ecan’s website after the application has been lodged, and when ECan opens it for public submissions.

The following is the wording of the Council resolution supporting the Inner Bays Irrigation Scheme option, passed on 10 December 2020.

The Council:

  1. Acknowledges that many submitters advocated for a sustainable development approach to water in Akaroa and that the Council recognises the value of water as a precious resource and taonga.
  2. Acknowledges that the water supply in the Akaroa area and wider Banks Peninsula will be increasingly under threat as climate change increases and that working towards non-potable reuse is supported by the Hearings Panel and most submitters.
  3. Acknowledges the concerns of the community about the poor state of the wastewater network and recommends that the Council aims for less than 20% inflow and infiltration through its work on the Council network and that it also requires private property owners to repair their pipes.
  4. Increases the promotion of water conservation measures in Akaroa to reduce the volume of wastewater, including the use of Smart Meters funded as part of the Three Waters Reform funding and notes the support by the Hearings Panel and some submitters for excess water charges to assist with this.
  5. Regularly communicates progress on the repairs and of conservation measures to the community, Community Board and the Council and that the name of the project change to the Akaroa Reclaimed Water Treatment and Reuse Scheme.
  6. Requests Council Officers to work with the Community Board to establish a Community Reference Group including members from the local Rūnanga to ensure that community concerns about the approved Akaroa Reclaimed Water Treatment and Reuse Scheme are listened to and, where possible, addressed.

In response to question one of the Akaroa Treated Wastewater Options consultation document, 'should we discharge highly treated wastewater from our new treatment plant to land or should we continue to discharge into Akaroa Harbour?'

That the Council:

  1. Rejects that Akaroa’s highly treated wastewater is discharged from the new treatment plant to the Akaroa Harbour.
  2. Approves that Akaroa’s highly treated wastewater is discharged from the new treatment plant to the land.

In response to question two of the Akaroa Treated Wastewater Options consultation document, 'if it decides to develop a scheme where highly treated wastewater is used on land for irrigation, where would you prefer the Council to irrigate? Inner Bays (Robinsons Bay, Hammond Point, Takamātua), Goughs Bay or Pompeys Pillar?'

That the Council:

  1. Approves that Akaroa’s highly treated wastewater is used on land for irrigation at Inner Bays (Robinsons Bay, Hammond Point, Takamātua)
  2. Requests Council Officers to investigate and incorporate where practical the following into detailed design of the scheme:
  3. Additional wetland site options as part of the detailed design, with the goal of reducing the size of the storage ponds.
  4. Maximize the planted areas of native bush to both reduce the size of the ponds and increase biodiversity outcomes.
  5. Investigate additional areas for irrigation of public space within the Akaroa catchment with the goal of increasing non-potable use.
  6. Future-proofing for potential non-potable reuse.
  7. The re-use of the current UV treatment unit in the new treatment plant to enable non-potable reuse.
  8. Native tree plantings in Robinsons Bay to avoid key archaeological sites as recommended in the Heritage New Zealand submission and installation of interpretation signage for visitors to the site.
  9. Softening the contours of the plantings by following the natural contours of the land, running down gullies where possible and raised boardwalks where appropriate for recreation in new wetland areas.
  10. Notes that water conservation and Inflow and Infiltration reduction measures aim to reduce the size of the pond.
  11. Requests that Council Officers investigate the use of storage tanks instead of storage ponds and if practical discuss the option with the Community Reference Group.
  12. Requests Council Officers to investigate and report back to the Council on the option of a scheme for local employment for the planting and maintenance of the native trees. In response to question three of the Akaroa Treated Wastewater Options consultation document, 'would you support us irrigating public parks in Akaroa with highly treated wastewater?'

That the Council:

  1. Approves irrigating public parks and flushing public toilets in Akaroa with highly treated wastewater as part of the scheme.

In response to question four of the Akaroa Treated Wastewater Options consultation document, 'would you like use to explore the feasibility of a purple pipe scheme for Akaroa, so that residential property owners could use the water for garden watering and other non-drinking purposes?'

That the Council:

  1. Supports and requests Council Officers to explore the feasibility of a non-potable reuse (purple pipe) scheme for Akaroa, so that property owners could use the water for garden watering and other non-drinking purposes.
  2. Requests Council Officers work with the Ministry of Health, the Canterbury District Health Board, Ngāi Tahu and water suppliers that are interested in non-potable reuse to develop non-potable re-use guidelines or standards for New Zealand.
  3. Requests Council Officers discuss options for enabling non-potable reuse of treated wastewater with the Council as soon as practicable, should the regulatory framework change.

That the Council:

  1. Includes consideration of additional budget in the draft Long Term Plan 2021-2031 to implement the approved Akaroa Reclaimed Water Treatment and Reuse Scheme.

Moved: Councillor Templeton
Seconded: Councillor Coker
Carried
(Councillors Chu, Gough and MacDonald requested that their votes against the resolutions be recorded).

Our work on this project began in 2014. This section gives some background to the project.

2020 Consultation

We undertook five weeks of community consultation outlining four viable options in August 2020, before the hearings panel recommended and the Council accepted the Inner Bays Irrigation Scheme (Option 1).

2015 Resource Consent

We were granted consent to build a new wastewater treatment plant on Old Coach Road, a new pump station at the Childrens Bay boat park and to upgrade the wastewater network of pipes and connections.

However, our applications for consent to construct a new pipe outfall to Akaroa Harbour, and discharge treated wastewater via that pipe outfall, were declined. The hearing commissioners said a harbour discharge was offensive to Ngāi Tahu and that we had not adequately investigated alternatives.

We appealed this decision, but in 2019 we decided to drop the appeal.

Why the treatment plant is being moved

The existing Akaroa wastewater treatment plant(external link) was built in the early 1960s at Takapūneke Historic Reserve.

It is now due for replacement and needs to be moved because the reserve is a historically and culturally sensitive place.

In 1830, Takapūneke was the site of a massacre. Te Rauparahau, with help from the captain of the British ship the brig Elizabeth, captured the rangitira (chief) of the māori pa, Te Miharanui, and killed about 200 of his people on the site.

It is now widely acknowledged that building a wastewater treatment plant at this site was extremely insensitive. The Council now recognises the area as a historic reserve and worked with Ōnuku Rūnanga in 2018 to develop the Takapūneke Reserve Management Plan(external link).

The new site

A site at the top of Old Coach Road was chosen for the new wastewater treatment plant in 2012.

This was one of two sites recommended by the Akaroa Community Wastewater Working Party and Akaroa/Wairewa Community Board. It was chosen for its proximity to Akaroa and to areas that in future could use treated wastewater for irrigation.

This site was supported by Ōnuku Rūnanga and is now owned by the Council.