Matamata-Piako District Council Waste-Water Treatment System - an example worth studying

Thursday 6 March 2014, 4:59PM
By Halo Biz

Industries and towns can coexist to mutual benefit and advancement

In preparation for the upcoming New Zealand Trade & Industrial Waste Forum being held in Hamilton, 9-11 April, Forum President Geoff Young highlights the importance and necessity for councils and commerce to work together collaboratively to protect our environment whilst permitting commercial industrial enterprises to add value to local communities without incurring extra ratepayer levies.

Relationships between industries and townships are too often adversarial and sadly, egos get in the way and the environment suffers.   It is clear that the fiscal health & success of industry and communities are not mutually exclusive, so why is it so difficult to get all parties around the same table for mutual benefit?

Young pulls no punches when it comes to suggesting industries and councils need to get over themselves and each other and start working towards the bigger picture.

There are examples in New Zealand where industry and community have successfully come to the same table and resolved environmental difficulties.  The Morrinsville wastewater treatment plant is a good example where industry requirements are becoming balanced with community needs to the benefit of both.

While initial engagement may not have been harmonious Morrinsville now has a wastewater treatment plant that is adequate for the current load with spare capacity for future growth while the industries successfully manage their contribution to the operational cost of the plant with wastewater pre-treatment. This is a luxurious position to be an:  for both parties.

Don McLeod, chief executive officer for the Matamata-Piako Council stated that the new arrangement came about because the town’s plant was being upgraded and at that time industry discharge was reviewed.  “We entered into an agreement allowing discharge from two specific large organisations (Greenlea Premier Meats and Fonterra). This agreement stipulates effluent parameters and also outlines penalties if these parameters are breached.”

“To an extent the industries determine the amount of pre-treatment they would undertake……..the higher the pre-treatment the lower our charges,” he said.

While Fonterra and Greenlea Premier Meats are the two major contributors, small industries also have trade waste agreements with the council that stipulate standards of discharge.

Greenlea is a meat processor while the Morrisville Fonterra plant produces milk powder and butter products; both were asked to fund 40% of the $19 million pre-treatment plant cost based on the difference between what the council would have to do without this discharge and with it.

One aspect of the success of this new pre-treatment plant was the council’s willingness to help make it attractive to both industries by financing the cost of the plant over the life of the 15 year discharge consent. 

Another important factor in the success of the agreement between Greenlea Meats, Fonterra and the Matamata-Piako District Council was because all parties sought, and were privy to, relevant and valid information.

Research was essential:  for a considerable period of time remote data measurement systems were installed to record the discharge from Greenlea & Fonterra.  The end result was that all parties were able to make intelligent and informed decisions.  The council was able to see what was affecting their wastewater treatment plants and thus take this data into account in future designs and the two businesses concerned were able to plan ahead for their own future regarding discharge consents.

A third aspect which contributed towards the successful outcome is because all parties entered into conversation before the new plant was built, not after. 

The New Zealand Trade and Industrial Waste Forum (NZTIWF) is the bridge between industries, utility providers, regulatory authorities and service providers. The NZTIWF advocates strong communication, good science and strong problem solving networks.

The Forum brings all stakeholders to the table to the benefit of community and industry together.

There is no other organisation in the entire spectrum of New Zealand policy making that fulfils this task.

The Forum deserves support and respect. It is good for business. It is good for the community. It is good for our elected representatives. Help yourself, your industry, your community, your environment; support of The New Zealand Trade and Industrial Waste Forum and it will support you.

Membership is free.