Water watch: ORC defends record


The regional council’s defending its position on water pollution, after a candidate claimed the majority of recent breaches were not investigated.

At a recent Otago Regional Council (ORC) candidates meeting, candidate and current Queenstown councillor Alexa Forbes said approval to discharge should not be for new plants, only existing ones, and discharges were already occurring.

“And 15 of the last 17 spills have not been investigated. That’s your problem, right there.”

It came during a discussion about Queenstown Lakes District Council’s (QLDC) application to discharge wastewater into local waterways, which has seen the proverbial hit the fan and sparked heated debate.

ORC rules boss Richard Saunders says it’s taken “several enforcement actions regarding QLDC discharges in recent years, including two successful prosecutions”.

“We have active monitoring programmes in place, and we also encourage other agencies and individuals to report any issues or concerns to us as soon as possible.

“Where reports/information are received we monitor compliance with our plans and consents.”

From January 2015 to March 2019, the district council has had three different resource consents relating to discharging wastewater to water from the Shotover River Waste Water Treatment Plant.

It breached those consents 100 times over that period – but just six times since January 2017.

Stats show the regional council issued eight infringement notices, three abatement notices, and undertook two prosecutions against various parties in the district in the past two financial years.

Just last week, Northlake Investments Ltd appealed an Environment Court conviction and sentence after being found guilty of breaching the Resource Management Act in August 2017, by discharging sediment-laden water into the Clutha River.

The development company was ordered to pay $42,500 to ORC.