Queenstown Lakes District Council announced last Monday that it will not appeal the recent Otago Regional Council decision to decline its resource consent application to discharge untreated wastewater overflows.
Submissions during the consenting process highlighted the community did not support the proposed approach, which has encouraged the council to consider new investment to address the risk of overflows from its network while continuing to protect public health. This alternative approach will see QLDC work with the community to ensure there is a clear understanding of what steps can be taken to help avoid overflows.
Mayor Jim Boult acknowledged that the community had been very clear about their feelings on the resource consent application. “Much of the intent behind the application was one of education and reducing risk of overflows whilst endeavouring to reduce the occurrence of costly court cases. On balance, the Council has determined that investing in these new initiatives is preferable to continuing to litigate the issue through the courts.
“We very much want to work closely with ORC to implement the programme of work outlined. Together, our approach will continue to be one that educates and mitigates risk, rather than just responding when things go wrong,” said Mayor Boult.
QLDC Councillor and Infrastructure Committee Chair Quentin Smith stated that it was logical and positive to take a solutions-based approach rather than a consenting one. “We all have a role to play in ensuring our wastewater network is functioning well and I hope the community will support these programmes.”
QLDC’s new work programme will include an education programme for residents, businesses and visitors about not damaging or blocking the wastewater network.
However, Don Robertson from Guardians of Lake Wānaka said, “I would expect QLDC to contribute to baseline measurements of key water quality attributes of those lake areas (in all three lakes) most likely to be impacted by sewage overflows, spillage etc. I don’t see this in the QLDC list of actions.”