Auckland golf resort accused of sewage snafu had long-running issues, documents show

An Auckland golf resort that's allegedly been pumping thousands of litres of sewage towards a stream has wastewater issues dating back to 2013.

That's according to documents obtained by 1 NEWS that also show Auckland Council didn't visit Formosa Golf Resort for five years, although it was aware of issues.

A month ago, a member of the public supplied 1 NEWS with hidden camera footage showing someone at the Beachlands property discharging wastewater from tanks on site, down a bank towards a waterway, which flows out at the nearby beach.

The camera snapped the act more than once.

Now documents, obtained under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act, indicate issues first began six years ago.

A compliance letter in 2013 shows extensive failings from Formosa, in complying with its resource consent conditions.

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Locals living near Formosa say the effluent is being pumped towards a stream. Source: 1 NEWS

In an interview with 1 NEWS, Auckland Council’s Regulatory Compliance Manager Steve Pearce acknowledged the city visited the property in 2013.

“We...checked what they were doing and found they had a few things wrong with the system," he said. "We told them what to do, we asked them to get back to compliance, and unfortunately they haven't done that."

But a lack of monitoring meant the council only found out last year that sewage was ending up in the stream.

“There were no further visits between 2013 and 2018,” said Mr Pearce.

“It's disappointing, I think we could have done better there.”

A local resident who had tracked a stench at the beach up the stream to the company, described the city's failure to visit the site as "unbelievable".

“These things should be checked,” he said. “A big place like that, council is responsible for checking these things.”

Last year, Formosa was given several abatement notices and fines.

But the council didn't take any more serious action until after a story from 1 NEWS.

It’s been issued with insanitary building notices, preventing it from discharging any waste until its system is repaired.

Formosa Golf Resort wouldn't comment on the history of the issues with its wastewater system.

Its lawyer noted the current owner “only became the owner of the property in October 2015 and therefore cannot comment on the earlier issues”.

In a statement, it said work to fix all problems will be complete in the next six to eight weeks.

“In the meantime, council is aware of the works and all notices have been complied with and all issues regarding the waste water are being dealt with,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, it’s been a difficult time for a gym which leases a building at the Beachlands site.

“Obviously it is a negative situation that has impacted our business,” Perform Fitness owner Jack Holmes said. “It's bad from the perspective of we need our bathrooms.

“I mean, you can’t run a facility like this with 600 members and have a portaloo.”

Mr Holmes has worked with the council to find a workaround until the wastewater system’s been repaired.

He hopes Formosa will then consider fixing the facility’s pool, which has been lying empty for years.

As for swimming at the nearby beach, next to Pine Harbour marina, the council says it’s safe.

“Our colleagues in healthy water, one of the council’s departments, have done water testing… and it's come back with no worryingly high levels," Mr Pearce said.

“There are traces of faecal forms but that could be from wild animals, it could be from human sources, but they are very, very low and are not of a human health concern.”

A local told 1 NEWS he’s not sure he trusts that.

The water quality will continue to be checked weekly.

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But Auckland Council didn’t visit the resort for five years, 1 NEWS has found. Source: 1 NEWS