Surfbreak Protection Society
Surfbreak Protection Society
News Archive
Wellington Wastewater, you’re surfing in it
30 Aug 11

Wellington surfers and beach goers will soon have an informed choice if they wish to enter the water after a waste water overflow event. The new discharge consents give a timeframe of 10 years to resolve the cross contamination and discharge issues. In the meantime an upgraded notification regime via email and txt alerts will be available to those that wish to sign up.

When Our Wgtn Rep Michael Gunson was a young grommet growing up in the 70’s living at Breaker Bay, his mum would drag him around getting signatures for a petition to stop the council discharging raw sewage at Moa point. “You could smell it on the air in a light southerly” he recalls. There is some improvement now, as the city discharges a maximum rate of 14,500m3 per hour (nominally 4000 litres per second).of treated wastewater, 1800 meters off Lyall Bay. The waters aren’t totally clean though…

“There are infrequent events when the peak wet weather flows arriving at the Plant can exceed for short periods the secondary treatment capacity of 3,000 litres per second. This has been recorded on 7 occasions during the past 4 years with an
average duration of 4 hours and 13 minutes (i.e. the actual duration of the events ranging from 45 seconds to 10 hours and 18 minutes). When this happens all wastewater arriving at the treatment plant is milliscreened. However the volume of wastewater inexcess of 3000 litres per second bypasses the disinfected secondary treatment process. Therefore the discharge from the long outfall during a bypass event is a mixture of milliscreened and disinfected secondary treated effluent.”. RESULTS OF INVESTIGATIONS FOR MOA POINT INTERIM CONSENT APPLICATION Noreen Barton and Christine Foster

As if this is not bad enough for Wgtn surfers, in July 2010 The Wellington City Council applied for consents to continue discharging stormwater that may be on occasion contaminated with overflow wastewater, from a number of constructed stormwater outfalls on the south coast, including Lyall Bay, usually after heavy rainfall events. The Surfbreak Protection Society along with Wellington Surfriders submitted to the consents in order impress on the council the concerns of us who surf in it, along with Forest and Bird and other community groups who utilise and appreciate our wild Wellington coastline.

The WCC won its argument that it is spending up to 20 million a year just to assess and gradually upgrade the system, and hope to have a better understanding of how to resolve issues surrounding cross connections and overflow into the stormwater system within the ten year consent period. Some estimates cite that a fully robust waste water system could cost $1.2 billion. If only Wellington had done it right the first time.

One concern of SPS is the projected growth of Wellington over the next ten years may outpace the upgrade timeline, and for clean waters to be truly proud of at the edge of a marine reserve many of the local community believe Wellington waste water needs a major overhaul, greater than the upgrade that is planned over the next ten years, as much of the network is old and failing.

Another concern is reports from the Wellington Recreational Marine Fishers Association that The bladder kelp beds in Lyall Bay are dying as a result of waste water, petroleum and endocrine chemicals that bubble up from the Wellington City Council’s broken waste water pipe off Te Raekaihau Point. SPS will enquire further on this.
SPS have received the following email from Paul Glennie of WCC Capacity regarding the email alert system, and have forwarded this on to the main commercial Surf Websites and in the hope that they integrate the alert system into their onsite daily forecasting.
The alert system is expected to “go live” by the time daylight saving switches over

If you wish to receive the alerts directly, just follow the directions below:

From Paul:

As you may be aware WCC recently obtained resource consent to discharge stormwater which may from time to time include overflows from the wastewater network.

On occasions following heavy or lengthy periods of rainfall the wastewater network can become overwhelmed through the inflow and infiltration of groundwater (a.k.a rain) – under these conditions it is preferable (note: this does not mean that it is desirable!) to provide relief within the wastewater system and prevent discharges to footpaths, lawns, public spaces and most importantly within buildings.

The new stormwater discharge consents have led to a notification process being developed that will allow for people (and groups) to be advised of when this occurs and what recreational waters may be affected.

The purpose of the alerts is to allow recreational harbour users to make informed decisions as to where they can enjoy our coastal marine environment following adverse weather conditions.

n order to receive an email and/or text advice we require written response (via email) of the following:
– Full name,
– email address (or multiple addresses if desired)
– cell phone number for txt alerts
– area that you wish to receive alerts for (from following list

Please note that the ‘alert’ will state that “an overflow has occurred and affects XX beach” – due to the timeframes involved in alerting parties we will not be in a position to advise of volumes or duration.

This information will be placed on the GWRC website in normal working hours following an event.
Alerts will only be sent between the hours of 7am and 8pm – should an event occur outside these hours the alert will be sent at 7.00am the following day – and will cover incidents that arise from the wastewater network, pump stations and Moa Point Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The locations that you can receive alerts for are as follows:
– Frank Kitts Lagoon / Taranaki Wharf area
– Overseas Passenger Terminal area
– Oriental Bay
– Balaena Bay
– Hataitai Beach
– Evans Bay
– Shark bay
– Mahanga Bay
– Karaka Bay
– Worser Bay
– Scorching Bay
– Seatoun Beach
– Breaker Bay
– Eves Bay
– Lyall Bay
– Houghton Bay / Princess Bay
– Island Bay
– Owhiro Bay

You may receive alerts for any number of receiving areas at no cost (unless you usually are charged for receiving text messages or emails on your cell phone).

We are unable to provide alerts without written advise that you wish to make use of this service. It will also be your responsibility to advise us of changes to email addresses or cell-phone numbers.

You may opt out of this service at any time by providing written advice that you wish to do so.

The service is planned to be fully operational for the introduction of daylight savings on September 25 and will run continuously from that date.

You can send your requests to receive alerts via myself at this email address or Capacity at

Please fell free to pass this email onto any party or individual that may wish to receive alerts.

It is possible that you will receive this email twice as we attempt to cover all bases – my apologies if this causes inconvenienc

Please direct any questions to me in the first instance. GWRC, who will also receive a copy of this email may also be able to answer your queries.

Kind regards

Paul Glennie
Strategic Policy Analyst – Asset Planning
Capacity Infrastructure Services Limited
85 The Esplanade, Petone, Private Bag 39804, Wellington Mail Centre 5045
T: + 64 4 910 3833 • F: + 64 4 910 3801 • E:

****** Isla Vista BWTF addresses water quality concerns after Thomas Fire ****** Hundreds of Oregonians Protest Offshore Oil Drilling ****** President’s Budget for 2019 Cuts Funding for Clean Water and Coastal Management ****** Washington Local, State, Tribal & Fishing Leaders Unite to Speak in Opposition to Offshore Drilling ****** Californians Rally Against Offshore Drilling in Statewide Protests ****** Surfrider Chapters Prepare to Visit Washington D.C. for Ocean Recreation Hill Day ****** Progress on the Statewide Bag Ban in Massachusetts! ****** Vans Hosts Surfrider National Board of Directors Mixer at New LEED HQ ****** Maui Water Quality Wins at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ****** Climate Change Roundup