The Waiheke Local Board has approved a request from Auckland Council’s Healthy Waters department to install wastewater infrastructure in The Strand Accessway Reserve as part of upgrading the Onetangi toilet block. The council plans to build a new wastewater treatment plant there because the existing one poses an environmental risk due to its position on the beachfront and vulnerability to further coastal erosion. The upgrade will bring the infrastructure at the reserve in line with current wastewater standards, Healthy Waters says. The full upgrade is proposed to include the new wastewater treatment system, installing two treated effluent disposal fields and associated landscape, plus planting specimen trees with low and dense native vegetation.

Healthy Waters have already consulted with the Waiheke Local Board, Onetangi Residents Society, neighbouring landowners and mana whenua regarding the project, which is expected to take six weeks to finish once construction starts. 

In response to that feedback, Healthy Waters says the land closer to the cliffs was considered, but there was limited topsoil with rocky outcrops in some places. Topsoil is key in absorbing the treated effluent into the ground, so it was not a suitable place for the effluent fields. Healthy Waters also noted that the slope was too steep there, which would send effluent flowing down the cliffside before it soaked into the ground. Installing drip lines to counter that would pose health and safety risks for both construction and maintenance workers, require clearing a significant amount of vegetation and some hefty anchoring into the rock to keep the drip lines in place. “[And] from discussions with the landowner next door to the reserve, they advised that the area that we are proposing does get fairly wet during winter, hence the trees are already exposed to some moisture.” Healthy Waters says the effluent would also be UV treated which would kill all the pathogens that might be a problem, so the proposed area was the best of the limited options available. • Paul Mitchell

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