Prosecute the polluting councils

Simon Lusk, with Bruce and Mabo who seem disinterested with all the fuss of photos when they'd rather be hunting

Simon Lusk, with Bruce and Mabo who seem disinterested with all the fuss of photos when they’d rather be hunting

Councils are supposed to uphold by-laws and they do against their own ratepayers.

Recently we say a farmer prosecuted for polluting a stream because of his ham-fisted method of willow tree extraction. Farmers and businesses are regularly prosecuted as well by councils when unauthorised or exceesive discharges are made into stream and rivers.

But what do you do when the polluter is the council, and the Regional Council above them refuses to prosecute them.

That is what is happening in the Hawkes Bay where the Central Hawkes Bay District Council is continually breaching sewage discharge permits and has been for more than 10 years.

If it was a farmer they would have been hauled before the courts and prosecuted and fined massive amounts of money…but not this crowd.

The Central Hawke’s Bay District Council could face private prosecution of its members over failures of its wastewater system.

The council is in breach of discharge consents which have been in place just three months.

The possibility of the prosecutions has been raised by Friends of the Tukituki spokesman and political campaigner Simon Lusk, who told Radio New Zealand if the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council would not prosecute, then the group would look at prosecuting CHB councillors and Regional Council staff, Mr Lusk says, are “failing to uphold their statutory obligations”.

CHB Mayor Peter Butler said “they” had threatened the council with prosecution before, and council chief executive John Freeman said he received a letter from the group last month. “My understanding is you can’t prosecute against individuals on the council,” Mr Freeman said. He said the two councils and the Friends of the Tukituki “all want the same outcome” – to ensure the river is free of any unwanted discharge.

“Any prosecution would be a distraction and a waste of time and money which would be better spent ensuring it [the system] is up and running properly,” Mr Freeman said. Regional council staff have decided against prosecuting the council despite six breaches of the discharge consents since they came into effect in October.

I bet a farmer couldn’t get away with six breaches. If the Regional Council, ironically who have a plan to pollute the same river to make it undrinkable and toxic, won’t prosecute then perhaps a private prosecution wouldn’t go amiss.

The district council is intent on resolving the issues as soon as possible, and is installing new clarifying systems to help ensure its Waipawa and Waipukurau wastewater plants, where $6 million was spent on floating wetlands installation, meet new treatment standards.

The wetlands were constructed in 2013 at the Waipawa plant off Pourerere, just east of the town, and which discharges via Bush Drain to the Waipawa River, a tributary to the Tukituki River, while the Waipukurau system discharges into the Tukituki from the town’s oxidation pond. A regional council report in December revealed harmful bacteria and wastewater were being released from the redeveloped wastewater plant into the Tukituki River at unacceptable levels.

Farmers aren’t allowed to dump shit int eh river, why should the council.

Their claims of resolving the issues as soon as possible are laughable…they’ve had 10 years.

This week it said nothing had improved and the Central Hawke’s Bay District Council was now in breach of its resource consent.

Mr Freeman said that initially it was thought problems were being caused by a block in the filters.

But it was discovered an additive used to aid phosphorous removal had been causing a “sticky material” known as floc, that glues sand grains together and causes blockages.

“We’ve tried several avenues to stop this from happening, and while they have reduced the blockages, they haven’t completely eliminated the problem,” he said.

This is just stupidity on the council’s part…sewage treatment isn’t rocket science, and the excuse above is risible, it is basic chemistry that the experts should have been aware of.


– HB Today

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.