Web Banner Tairawhiti

Sewer valves opened into city's rivers

4 Apr 2017

Sewer valves opened into city's rivers

The city's wastewater system is flooded due to the persistent heavy rain. 

To prevent sewage from overflowing into homes and properties, at approximately 4:30pm Council opened the emergency sewer valves from the sewer network into the city rivers - Taruheru, Waimata and Turanganui rivers.

We will advise when the discharge has stopped. 

The Medical officer of Health, water user and sports groups will be notified. 

Temporary warning signs will be installed at swimming at recreation sites. 

As a precaution we advise no swimming or gathering shellfish in rivers and recommend washing hands, feet and equipment after contact with the city's rivers Taruheru, Waimata and Turanganui rivers until warning signs are removed. 

We will provide updates here and on our Facebook page. 

Wednesday 5 April 

We don't make the call to discharge to rivers lightly, we do this to prevent sewage from overflowing back into people's homes and the roads.

With the intensity of rainfall yesterday the emergency sewer valves were opened at the Gladstone Road bridge, Peel Street bridge, Oak Street, Riverside Road and Owen Road into the Taruheru, Waimata and Turanganui rivers.

We're in the process of closing the valves this morning but it takes time as we need to monitor the system closely to ensure there are no overflows back onto properties.

The reason this happens is because an excessive amount of rain is getting into the wastewater system. 95% of it comes from illegal downpipe connections from spouting into gully traps and surface flooding draining into gully traps on residential properties. Our Drainwise project in place to address these issues.

The project is on track with its timeline and investing $22m to renew the infrastructure as set out in the long term plan.

We're completing renewals of council pipes and emergency backup systems, like the storage tanks at Steele Road and Crawford Street.

But discharges will continue to happen if rainwater keeps getting in from private homes and requires the cooperation of property owners in city in order to reduce the frequency of discharges to the rivers.

Our Drainwise team are working on solutions for helping homeowners fix stormwater drainage on their property so we can reduce the risk of discharges happening.

This is the first wet weather discharge since September 2015. And the second discharge this year following the blockage at Oak street pump station on 26 March.

We continue to advise people not to swim or gather shellfish in rivers and beaches for 5 days after any heavy rain event, regardless of whether there has been a sewage discharge or not.

Here's more information on our DrainWise project