Whanganui District Council officially started the biological commissioning process for its new wastewater treatment plant today – and the first step was to open a valve that is now sending 100% of Whanganui’s effluent through the plant, rather than out to sea.
Council Chief Executive, Kym Fell says this is a major milestone for the $39 million project and a huge turning point for the local marine environment. “We are no longer sending raw sewage out to sea and this is worth celebrating.”
Around 1000 people turned out for an open day at the plant last weekend and Mr Fell says feedback received from the public was overwhelmingly positive.
“This was an opportunity for people to get in and have a look at the plant before commissioning commenced, so it was great to see so much interest and enthusiasm from the community.
He says, “I am extremely pleased with the progress of this project, which has consistently tracked according to plan. The build has gone very smoothly and we remain within our forecasted budget and ahead of time.”
The Council’s General Manager, Infrastructure, Mark Hughes says, “Two years’ ago I was sitting before environment commissioners discussing a three year consent to discharge to sea. It was very satisfying at nine this morning to begin commissioning the plant, effectively ending that discharge of raw sewage into the sea earlier than expected.
Mr Hughes says, “Everything is going well and we can observe the process via our SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) programme which enables us to see each stage at a glance.
“It will take three months for biological commissioning to be complete, but getting to this point in the project is a significant achievement.”
The wastewater treatment plant is expected to be fully operational by July 2018.