A watchdog group says the latest sewage spill into Whangarei harbour makes a joke of council claims to be a moderate polluter.
Diluted sewage was discharged into Whangarei harbour on Saturday night, when the pumping system failed in heavy rain.
Whangarei District Council is seeking to renew a consent to legalise such spills, claiming they happen only two or three times per year, on average.
But the Save Our Harbour group says the spills are happening with growing frequency and the average is meaningless.
Spokesman Warren Slater says the council has no grounds for complacency if the sewage system cannot handle a typical Northland downpour in the middle of the night when usage is low.