The Central Otago District Council (CODC) has welcomed the chance to collaborate with the Otago Regional Council (ORC) to achieve compliance at its wastewater treatment plants, after being issued with three abatement notices for non-compliance.

On October 29, ORC issued the council with abatement notices for significant non-compliance with resource consents at the Cromwell, Omakau and Roxburgh wastewater treatment plants.

Cromwell and Roxburgh wastewater treatment plants were non-compliant for an increase in nitrogen levels recorded in the treated discharge. For the Omakau plant, there were two occurrences of exceeding the consented limits for treated discharge and discharge volume.

The bacterial limit was exceeded, while one of the ponds was taken offline to undertake improvements and is now compliant again for bacterial limits.

An abatement notice is a formal written directive requiring the non-compliant work to cease and to undertake remediation where required. The notice did not include any fine, or other punitive actions such as infringement notices or prosecution.

It was part of ORC’s spectrum approach to encourage “positive behaviour change”, CODC executive manager of infrastructure services Julie Muir said.

“For the six months prior to receiving the abatement notices, CODC has been actively working to address the causes of the non-compliance.”

Funding for improvements to wastewater treatment throughout the district was put in place in the 2021-2031 Long Term Plan.

These improvements would improve the biological health of the treatment ponds and improve the quality of the discharge.

Planned work includes installation of electricity and screens to remove material such as wet wipes at Roxburgh and Omakau, and increased aeration at Omakau and Cromwell.

The council welcomed the opportunity to continue to work collaboratively with the Otago Regional Council to achieve a positive outcome for the environment and community, Ms Muir said.