Oct. 3, 2019, 2:40 p.m.
With human waste entering freshwater and marine ecosystems, local hapū have been staunch advocates for alternative wastewater treatment at Taipā since the treatment plant was first proposed. A meeting held in Kaitāia saw the community come together to hear about a potential solution for wastewater treatment issues in Northland.
Wastewater treatment expert and Taipa resident, Andreas Kurmann, has been working on ways to improve the Taipa treatment system with iwi over the past 11 years. He has developed an electro-coagulation (EC) unit based on the American commercial version that he assures is more efficient, cheaper and more eco-friendly. The demonstration didn’t fail to impress those in attendance. EC systems has already been implemented in Singapore and in parts of the USA with promising results.
Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Kahu Chief Executive Anahera Herbert-Greaves was relieved by this solution to the Taipa wastewater treatment plant saying “we’ve had a problem ever since the Taipa wastewater system went in, in the 1970s... the way this solution could work for us, fits in with our kaitiakitanga”.
The Far North District Council has estimated a treatment system, capable of treating the wastewater to the recommended standard, to be more than $20 million. Kurmann can prove that the EC unit he has developed, including a two-way dewatering centrifuge for wastewater volume of 1500 m3/day, would cost less than $1.5 million.
In his presentation, Kurmann says that with the backing of the local community and iwi, the installation of an EC unit would be a breakthrough moment for water quality and environmental guardianship in New Zealand. Kurmann adds that if FNDC is not supportive of this cheap and effective solution, the community could look into more radical action, such as running the Taipa plant as a community trust.