Council Investigates Wastewater Irrigation
An approach has been made to a number of Wakatipu landowners to gauge interest in a possible wastewater irrigation option for the area, Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive Duncan Field said.
Treated Wakatipu wastewater was currently discharged directly into the confluence of the Kawarau and Shotover Rivers to New Zealand safe swimming water standards.
"Culturally that is no longer desirable and environmentally the perception of treated wastewater being released into a pristine mountain river is not favourable in an area renowned for its natural beauty," Mr Field said.
Another important consideration was the growing value of water. "Throughout Otago water is over subscribed and needs to be protected wherever possible," Mr Field said.
Alternatives for river discharge had been investigated district-wide.
"We now have consent for disposal to land at Wanaka Airport and we are in a position to build on the work that has already been done in Wakatipu," Mr Field said.
The consents for river discharge in the Wakatipu would expire in November 2008 and earlier this year the council commissioned a consultant to investigate the long term options.
"The current consents recognise that by 2008 we need to clearly define what the long term system will be," Mr Field said.
Council and the ORC also recognised that the construction of the future solution may take some time longer to implement.
"We will need to identify land, obtain consents, define the new technology and let contracts to build and operate the system," Mr Field said.
The latest investigation was to satisfy the council and the Otago Regional Council that QLDC would meet world best practise into the future.
"The concept of land irrigation could fit that brief and was being successfully utilised elsewhere in New Zealand and quite extensively overseas. We want to know if there is interest in this scheme locally," Mr Field said.
The amount of land required for such a scheme differed according to land use, for example 200 hectares of harvested land would be required whereas 560 hectares of native scrub would be needed. Other options would be grazed land, forestry or park land.
"We would be looking at entering into a partnership with the landowner for a reasonable period of time. It's not our preference to purchase the land," Mr Field said.
Blocks of land that could possibly fit the criteria for waste water irrigation had been identified and the landowners sent a discussion document.
"The paper discusses treatment, application, nutrient content and economic benefits including increased gross income, pasture production and reduced fertiliser costs," Mr Field said.
At this stage the process was entirely investigative; the council had no fixed agenda on the matter.
"It's a blank canvas but it does look as though the irrigation option could facilitate a mutually beneficial scheme for a landowner or landowners and the community," Mr Field said.
The next step would involve entering into discussions with any interested landowners."There may be other people we have not contacted who could be interested in this proposal, basically If you have an area of land within 10 kilometres of the Shotover Bridge and are interested in beneficially reusing treated wastewater, then contact the council," Mr Field said.
For further information please contact Duncan Field 03 441 0499.