Queenstown council doesn’t believe septic tank discharges from properties close to the new Shotover water treatment plant pose any contamination risk.

About 25 properties on Old School Rd, just above the Shotover River, still rely on septic tanks rather than the town’s sewerage network.

Resident Ken Turner, who owns two homes on the road, each with a septic tank, distinctly recalls property owners being told they’d need to connect to the main network once the treatment plant was up and running.

That’s because they’d be discharging into the same aquifer the treatment plant would be using.

‘‘The engineers, about eight years ago, said it would be a compulsory requirement we disconnected all our septic tanks and went onto the main sewer.’’

However, Turner says he’s now been told there’s no compulsion, and wonders if that’s because of constant council staffing changes.

Simon Mason, council’s infrastructure operations manager, says ‘‘there is separation between the treated wastewater from the septic systems and the water supply take in this location, and hence we consider the risk of contamination low’’.

Monitoring of the source water confirms water quality’s not being adversely affected by the onsite wastewater systems, he adds.

However, Mason says council earlier this year advised Old School Rd property owners with septic tanks they could now connect to the council’s waste water network.

‘‘While we’re keen for property owners to connect in terms of achieving the best environmental outcomes, we appreciate there’s a significant cost in doing so and hence the decision remains with them (until such time they seek to modify their property and a consent requirement is
triggered).’’

To date, the council has received applications to connect from three properties in the area.

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