Q+A: Why some ratepayers are falling foul of councils wastewater management

Whena Owens of TVNZ1's Q+A investigates the new ways councils are dealing with sewage, and why they’re falling foul of some ratepayers.

Whena Owen investigates the new ways councils are dealing with sewage. Source: Q+A

Councils around the country are under pressure to renew sewage systems that meet new environmental standards and are affordable and acceptable to their ratepayers, but not all ratepayers are happy about the newly adopted methods of disposing waste.

Featherston resident, Virgina Love said when she brought her property five years ago she was unaware that the council had plans to spray human effluent on the 166 hectare block right next door.

She says she supports the council's goal to have no wastewater discharged into rivers by 2040 but feels her family are paying the price.

"They said in a meeting to the community that there will be globules of sewage, and water definitely won't be 100 per cent. They can not guarantee us that there won't be E. coli on our roof."

Cut and carry baleage irrigated with human waste water is also being produced at the settling ponds.

"What we know is that the animals won't eat it," resident Claire Bleakley said.

"In the event that these cows begin lactating, there is a 30-day stand down period before we will accept supply," says Fonterra in a statement.

Local Government New Zealand President, Dave Cull, says the increase in population, the rise of health and safety standards and the current plants becoming obsolete are contributing to the wastewater management problem.

"It doesn't only mean there's a demand for new facilities it means the councils are really struggling to pay for them," Mr Cull said.