Wellsford wastewater upgrade planned

Newly elected Rodney Local Board member Colin Smith (right) says Wellsford’s wastewater woes will continue if the whole system isn’t moved and completely rebuilt.

By Rod Cheeseman

Watercare is planning a comprehensive upgrade of Wellsford’s wastewater treatment plant following revised population growth predictions.

The plant has been at capacity for a number of years and members of the community say it has been a handbrake on the town’s growth

Previous Auckland Council forecasts have predicted the town will shrink over the next 35 years, but an updated growth model is predicting it will grow by 5000 residents over that period.

Watercare is currently consulting on a number of upgrade options, ranging from an ambitious new $50 million wastewater treatment plant at either Pakiri or Port Albert, to a more modest upgrade of the existing plant. This would be achieved by adding more aeration ponds and continuing to discharge into the Hoteo River. The upgrade would cost between $9 million and $18 million, depending on the type of filtration ponds used.

During public consultation in Wellsford last month, Watercare project manager Ban Najim Aldin would not be drawn on the preferred option.

“We consult with everyone – scientists, planners, engineers, the community and iwi. We put everything out on the table and see what’s left,” Ms Najim Aldin said.

But she said Watercare planned to lodge a resource consent application for the preferred system this month.lan Independent Hearings Panel in January where it disputed Council’s claim the town would shrink and called for investment in infrastructure to enable growth.

“Council is recognising that although there has not been growth in the last 40 years, there will be growth in the future,” Mr Foster says.

Newly-elected Rodney Local Board member for Wellsford Colin Smith attended the meeting, but didn’t believe any of the proposals went far enough.

“The area where the current plant is situated is prone to flooding. It needs to be moved between Wellsford and Te Hana,” Mr Smith said.

He believed the town would grow even faster than predicted and the town’s drinking water, which is also drawn from the river, should be upgraded too.

“The two are directly linked to the Hoteo River, both systems are broken. Do it all, do it once and get it right,” Mr Smith said.

If the application is lodged with Council this month, a decision is expected to be made early next year. Watercare says it will maintain public consultation throughout the process.