The Marton Waste Water Treatment Plant is up for a multi million dollar upgrade as reported recently in the Wanganui Chronicle. It was noted in the article (and locals of course know this) that “…a contributor to the current plant’s failure was leachate (landfill run-off), which was trucked to the treatment plant from Bonny Glen landfill..”
According to RDC’s own report of December 2014 “Marton’s WWTP is configured as a domestic/municipal wastewater treatment based upon pond technology. It is not well suited to provide high levels of treatment to significant industrial trade wastes of a complex nature”.
The Chronicle’s article goes on to say that … “The landfill’s owners are now working on pre-treating the leachate and the council’s utility assets manager Joanna Saywell suggested Midwest may be able to fully treat the leachate within a few years.”
The operative words here are “working on”, “may be able to” and “a few years”. This non specificity will allow all parties concerned to drag their feet for quite possibly another decade or so given the wheels of bureaucracy turn very slowly. Note they have dragged their feet for one decade already whilst polluting the Tutaenui stream to who knows what extent … as deputy Mayor “Mr McManaway said it was a worry that records of what was being put through the system [that he serves] had not been maintained.” (Wanganui Chronicle 20/12/14). In fact, with 10 of the required 36 reports over nine years either missing or non-existent, and a decade of largely non-compliance, going by the water testing that did occur, we can fairly safely conclude it’s in a bad state. And the in-stream biota surveys? There’s been none since 2002 … the consent requires one every three years so four are missing. (These surveys tell us the state of the stream’s aquatic life, if any). My two queries in March to RDC asking if there’d be another one hasn’t garnered a response yet.
In December 2014, pre-consent stage, the official reporting of leachate-truck activity was one load every two days:
“Leachate is put into the waste water system about every second day under a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ between the council and Bonny Glen operators Midwest Disposals Ltd… Some days leachate can contribute almost 70 per cent of the ammoniacal nitrogen levels which regularly exceed consented levels..” Wanganui Chronicle 20/12/14
A person on the truck route commented on the article however that they were seeing the leachate truck go past at least three times a day. A conservative estimate then would make that one round trip a day at least.
Fast forward eight months. The consents are granted to quintuple the landfill size (not quadruple as previously broadcast) with a now increased volume of leachate due to the extended capacity of the landfill. It’s been observed by a local who lives on the truck route, that the leachate tanker is making seven round trips a day on average, and often there are two tankers working bringing that up to twelve round trips a day, six days per week. So we have progressed from an estimated six truckloads per week to a conservative forty two to seventy two per week. That is quite some increase.
We are certainly going to be needing that multi million dollar upgrade and let’s keep our fingers crossed that Midwest “may be able” to treat the leachate themselves “within a few years” as they’re saying. As Nigel Belsham’s quoted in the article, “… if it was trade waste causing problems to the plant and not domestic waste, the bill should be picked up by industry.”
But then we do have a gentleman’s agreement that it appears, at all costs must be kept. Hopefully RDC will see their way clear to getting an in-stream biota survey soon so we can know how trashed the Tutaenui really is.
If you haven’t surely already deduced this, RDC, like councils everywhere these days, has been placing corporate interests above the interests of both the environment and the people who elect them. These same councils espouse ‘sustainability’ – the new ‘buzz’ word – while in reality their practices are everything but sustainable.