Tarawera sewerage scheme

Tarawera residents and Rotorua Lakes Council have established a steering group following strong interest by the community to have a reticulated sewerage scheme for Tarawera. Options which would best serve the community that can be implemented in an affordable way are currently being investigated.

What is being proposed?
He aha e marohitia ana?

Lake Tarawera Sewerage Steering Committee (LTSSC) is made up of 20 community representatives, key stakeholders, iwi, land trusts, Rotorua Lakes Council, Regional Council and Tarawera Ratepayers Association. It is independently chaired by Glenn Snelgrove.

The Committee has looked at ways to achieve a reticulated wastewater scheme and has identified five possible and viable wastewater options.

Option 1
A Septic Tank Effluent Pump (STEP) system located on your property. A STEP system is a 3800 litre septic tank with a filter and pump inside the tank. The filtered effluent is pumped through pressure pipes to a local Wastewater Treatment Plant and the solids remain in the system, which have to be removed periodically.

Option 2
A STEP system where the filtered effluent is pumped to Ōkāreka and on to the Rotorua Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Option 3
A Low Pressure Grinder Pump (LPGP) would be located on your property to pump all the waste to a local Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Option 4
A Low Pressure Grinder Pump that pumps the waste to Ōkāreka and then on to the Rotorua Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Option 5*
If no decision is made to have a community reticulation system, then each individual property owner will need to:

• Install an Aerated Wastewater Treatment System with Nutrient Reducing capabilities (AWTS+NR), which is also referred to as OSET (Onsite Effluent Treatment) system. The wastewater from this system would be discharged to a soil soakage system. This system would be an improvement in performance over septic tanks but would not fully remove the N and P from the catchment. It would also require a reasonable amount of land for disposal of the effluent.

*Option 5 may cost each property owner up to $20,000 and is not eligible for subsidy. Not all properties will be able to accommodate one of these systems because of land slope and stability, available space, proximity to ground water and unsuitable soils. Property owners in this category would need to apply for a resource consent which would seek to mitigate the effects of the discharge. This is the least preferred option.

At this stage, the committee is leaning towards option 4. Of all options, it appears to best meet the objectives of being more environmentally friendly and affordable. A Cultural Impact Assessment is currently being developed by iwi to confirm that this option meets cultural aspirations.

Why is this project important?
He aha te tino take o te hinonga?

Most homes in the Tarawera area currently use domestic septic tank systems with varying forms of disposal. These will require significant upgrades to meet the Bay of Plenty’s Onsite Effluent Plan which will help improve the health of the lake. Both iwi and the community want to achieve this through implementing a suitable sewerage scheme to help enhance the mauri (life essence) of the lake for future generations.

Who has been part of the project development?
Nā wai te hinonga i whakarite?

Lake Tarawera Sewerage Steering Committee (LTSSC) is made up of 20 community representatives, key stakeholders, iwi, land trusts, Rotorua Lakes Council, Regional Council and Tarawera Ratepayers Association. It is independently chaired by Glenn Snelgrove.

How is this being funded?
I ahu mai te pūtea i hea?

The cost of a possible scheme could range from about $15 million to $19 million. Rotorua Lakes Council is committed to working with the Tarawera community to develop a sewerage scheme that best meets their needs and affordability. Council will continue its contribution of $1,500 per household with the individual capital contribution to be paid upfront in the year of construction. The balance between the total cost less subsidies would then need to be met directly by individual households.

Based on initial costings this would be approximately $19,000 + GST per household. A capital cost of $17.8 million has been budgeted in the Long-term Plan with the assumption this will be fully funded by the properties that connect to the system.

Year 5 = $8.9 million
Year 6 = $8.9 million

Council will continue to work with the community to source additional funding from external providers as has been done with East Rotoiti/Rotomā. In addition to this Council will also look into establishing a hardship payment option for those residents that meet specified hardship criteria (yet to be determined) to allow them to pay the $19,000 + GST back over a specified number of years.

Council have stated that they cannot afford to borrow the balance of the costs needed to construct this sewerage scheme and then collect the contributions over 25 years as has been done for other schemes. This would require households to source their capital contribution themselves. Council in signalling up-front payments in the first instance will work with the residents around other payment options if the up-front option is not financially achievable for individual residents.

If the level of funding assumed is not available Council will need to further consult the community on the affordability and any alternative funding options before going ahead with construction.

To date the community steering group has successfully secured $6.5 million from the Ministry for the Environment and $0.75 million from the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

FAQs
Pātai Putuputu

What is the purpose of the Lake Tarawera Sewerage Steering Committee?

Investigate and recommend the most appropriate wastewater disposal option to the community and Rotorua Lakes Council. The final recommendation must be sustainable and help to improve the health of Lake Tarawera.

What are their findings so far?

That septic tanks are contributing to the increased nitrogen (N), phosphorus(P) and E-coli (disease causing bacteria) discharged into the lake causing water quality deterioration – Lake Tarawera water is unsafe to drink but safe to swim in. The Committee has looked at ways to achieve a reticulated wastewater scheme and has identified five possible and viable wastewater options.

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