Westland Looks to Take Its Wastewater Out of the Hokitika River
Westland Milk Products said today it is well down the path toward potentially taking its treated wastewater discharge
out of the Hokitika River.
CEO Toni Brendish says that in September last year Westland re-opened its investigations into an ocean outfall for its
treated wastewater discharge, which would take it out of the Hokitika River two years prior to the existing in-river
discharge consent expiring in 2021. A final decision on whether to go with the option will be made early in 2018. The
investigations are at the stage that the company is about to go back to the West Coast Regional Council for a minor
variation to its existing permit.
Westland has held an ocean outfall consent for five years – taken out initially to reserve the option for the company
while alternative treated wastewater discharge options were considered. Those investigations have since revealed that
the ocean outfall is likely to be the best solution for the environment and would prevent future problems in the
“The ocean outfall option is now at the active consideration stage”, Brendish said, “with major engineering
investigations being carried out to test the feasibility of the project to create detailed design and costings. The
proposal includes construction of a 3.74km pipeline from the Hokitika dairy factory to an outfall point just south of
the Hokitika sewage treatment ponds.”
Brendish says the proposal’s key advantage is an environmental one.
“Should it proceed, we will take Westland’s treated wastewater discharge out of the Hokitika River into a highly active
ocean environment that’s better able to cope with the inflow.
“The quality of the treated discharge would not pose any environmental issues for the ocean and there would be no health
risk to the public. The intense wave activity will improve the speed with which the discharge is diluted and dispersed,
and will present no threat to marine mammals, birds, fish and other organisms.
“This is an environmental gain that would be welcomed in our community and provide Westland with a more secure,
environmentally superior option for the long-term management of our wastewater system.”
Five years ago it was thought Westland’s ocean outfall could be located on a new pier built at the site of Hokitika’s
sewage ponds but, Brendish said, recent engineering investigations have recommended against this option. The site has
been deemed unsuitable for a number of reasons, including that excavation for the pipeline could risk the integrity of
the sewage ponds themselves.
“As a result, we are proposing an outlet further down the beach toward Hokitika but still some distance north of the
town, and well away from the area of the beach most popular with recreational users,” Brendish added.
The new location would only require an application for a minor variation to the original consent, as the original permit
allowed for the outlet to be ‘at or near’ the Hokitika sewage ponds.
Brendish said there was also potential for considerable cost savings for Westland in the proposal.
“Our projections indicate that maintaining the wastewater discharge into the Hokitika River will become increasingly
difficult and expensive for Westland. Long term, the cost of establishing and maintaining an ocean outfall is likely to
be much less than keeping it in the river.”
Westland is working with the Westland District Council, KiwiRail and other authorities to finalise the route of the
underground pipeline. It is likely, Brendish said, that the majority of the route will be along roadside reserves.
“We are also working with iwi, recreational and environmental groups to ensure their views are taken into consideration
in the final design.”
A recommendation including final-cost estimates will be considered for capital expenditure approval by Westland’s Board
in March 2018.