Getting wastewater from Warkworth to the new Snells Beach wastewater treatment plant, which is currently under construction, may prove to be an Achilles heel for the big housing developments planned for Warkworth in coming years.
Around 2500 new homes are scheduled to be connected to the system in late 2024, along with the existing residential areas of Warkworth. The former Warkworth treatment plant will then be decommissioned.
However, with work yet to start on the five-kilometre pipeline, the connection timeframe has already been pushed back by a couple of months to February 2025.
Watercare’s head of strategy and planning, Priyan Perera, says the delay is the result of a decision by Watercare to change how it lays the pipes between Warkworth and Snells Beach.
Watercare had initially looked at laying the pipes in trenches along the side of the road. Perera says that while they had resource consents to go ahead with that, after discussions with the Rodney Local Board and others on the impacts on what is a very busy road, they stepped back and looked at alternatives.
Watercare now plans to lay the wastewater pipe underground by drilling a tunnel under private property.
Similar drilling projects have been done in Auckland, including the Army Bay and Snells-Algies wastewater outfalls.
Perera says the change will mean only one pump station will be needed, as opposed to three for the roadside option. Plus, there will be a lower carbon footprint.
Independent commissioners held a hearing in the Warkworth Town Hall this month to consider the pipeline’s resource consent. Of the 29 affected landholders, 21 were notified as part of the Resource Management Act process. The majority consented to the pipeline, and Watercare is working to address the concerns of the final two.
Commissioners will release their decision in the next couple of months, but Perera is confident the consent will be approved. However, if the decision is appealed, further delays will be encountered.
Perera says there are ways to get around short term delays, including extending the life of the current Warkworth treatment plant.
Neighbourhood North Ltd, which is developing the former Stubbs Farm where 1200 dwelling are planned, is relying on the wastewater conveyance pipe connection. However, company spokesperson Wayne Wright is philosophical about any delays. He is currently in discussion with Watercare on how to work around the delay, and says it is too soon to be concerned.
Warkworth Ridge, overlooking the new Matakana Link Road, is set to accommodate more than 600 new dwellings and is likely be ready to connect in late 2024. Development spokesperson Alan Botica said they were aware of the delay and had made plans around it.
The pipeline is being designed to cater for population growth through to 2099. Any delays in its construction will not affect Snells Beach connections.