27 July 2018
Whanganui District Council says some clarification is needed about its recent court conviction relating to a discharge into Mowhanau Stream on 11 January 2017.
Chief Executive, Kym Fell says the case has been referred to several times now in media statements by Horizons Regional Council and in local discussions on social media.
“It is unfortunate that we are unable to respond to all references to the case while the court process is still underway, but I would like some of the facts to be aired to provide clarity and reassurance for the public.”
Mr Fell says the low volume of treated septic tank wastewater which overflowed from a pump station at Mowhanau was caused by the failure of a Powerco pole fuse.
The Council responded by upgrading the pump station to include a continuous power supply and the ability to connect a generator in the unlikely event of any recurrence of an external power failure. These works were completed in March 2017.
“We received a notice of prosecution from Horizons Regional Council in July 2017,” says Mr Fell.
“The result is that Whanganui District Council has been found guilty of one offence of discharging a contaminant, which we accept occurred. There are no requirements however from the Court to do any further work to the pump station, or to change any of our processes and procedures.”
Mr Fell says Horizons Regional Council is grasping at straws. “I believe they’re scrambling to demonstrate some kind of effectiveness at the moment and are clearly using our case to shore up some credibility, but the reality is that their action against Whanganui District Council has achieved absolutely nothing.”
“The fees in defending the litigation have cost our community in excess of $100,000; money which could have been better spent on core services and meaningful environmental improvements.”
Mr Fell says, “Residents can be assured that Whanganui District Council takes its responsibilities very seriously with respect to our district’s natural environment. We responded very quickly to the pump station issues at the time and there has been no repeat of the incident which took place 18 months ago.”
Sentencing has been scheduled for 1 November 2018.