19 Sep 2011

Council wastewater plant failed quality tests

9:33 am on 19 September 2011

Farmers have taken a lot of the blame for the state of the Manawatu River, but now Palmerston North City Council is implicated as well.

A council wastewater plant has repeatedly exceeded the amount of pollutants it's allowed to discharged into the Manawatu River since it opened in 2003

A Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council report obtained by Radio New Zealand, shows levels of phosphorus and e-coli exceeded limits in almost half of all water quality tests conducted since the plant opened in 2003.

Ten out of 24 tests on water taken from the Manawatu River failed to reach the consent requirements.

The report was sent to council officers, but not shown to councillors.

Palmerston North Mayor Jono Naylor says there was no need to reveal the information until the breaches had been clarified.

Regional council chairman Bruce Gordon says the city council will not face a financial penalty for the breaches because there would be no benefit in that.

Mr Naylor says the reports need to be confirmed before penalties can be discussed.

He says the council is trying to find out the full extent of the consent breaches.

The most recent consent incident in June this year, is still unresolved.

Massey University ecologist Mike Joy says the city council should be held accountable for polluting the Manawatu River for the past seven years.

Mr Joy says there's not enough enforcement from the regional council for district councils to stop polluting the river.

He told Morning Report that individual farmers are fined for breaching water consent conditions, and so should the council be.

Mr Joy used to compile river reports for the regional council. He says that until harsher penalties are enforced, the state of the Manawatu River will continue to decline.