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Council improves Westport wastewater pump station to reduce wastewater overflows

30 May 2023

Buller District Council has uncovered and fixed issues discovered with the wastewater pump stations that will reduce the amount of wastewater entering the Buller River during periods of heavy rain.

Earlier this year, an in-depth assessment of the operation of pump stations alongside the river found that at high tide, water was getting into the pump stations, mixing with wastewater and flowing out again, carrying some contamination into the river.   This was due to some worn, faulty flap gates that were not working as required. Once this issue was identified, they were replaced with new ones to prevent this from happening.

The flap gates have been replaced with new valves, called WaStops, at all pump stations except the Pakington Street pump station. This pump station will have WaStop valves installed in June.

Council has also corrected the calibration of the pump stations, fixed and replaced screens and updated the maintenance and monitoring schedule.

Acting chief executive Sean Judd says these moves will reduce the frequency of overflows and therefore the amount of wastewater getting into the river.

“This will reduce the level of risk to public health.  However, we do still expect the wastewater system may overflow during heavy rain events. Although this is allowed under our current resource consent conditions, we need to minimise the impacts of this when it does happen. This is why public health advice is to avoid swimming for two to three days after heavy rain, as reflected on the national Health Navigator website.”

He says council’s planned three-year programme to reduce stormwater getting into the wastewater network will further reduce overflows and risks to public health.

The renewal of the resource consent application to allow wet weather overflows to the Buller River has been discussed with Ngāti Waewae. Council acknowledges that Ngāti Waewae strongly disapproves of the wastewater network’s historic performance regarding the frequency of the overflow discharges.

Council is committed to working with Ngāti Waewae and our community over the long-term, to achieve the desired new Essential Freshwater concept of Te Mana o te Wai.

An application to renew the consent, to allow wet weather sewer overflows to the Buller River was lodged with the West Coast Regional Council in late April.


further information please contact:
Acting Chief Executive
Sean Judd