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Wastewater treatment

Tauranga City Council is responsible for maintaining and improving the wastewater system to safeguard both the environment and public health.

Learn how, and where, we treat our wastewater before it’s discharged into the ocean.

Where we treat our wastewater

We use gravity and pumps to move wastewater around the city through via an underground network of wastewater pipes. These pipes flow to one of our two wastewater treatment plants at Chapel Street or Te Maunga.

Chapel Street treatment plant

Chapel Street treatment plant

Built in 1969
Average daily flow 15,000m³

Te Maunga treatment plant

Te Maunga treatment plant

Built in 1996
Average daily flow 20,000m³

How we treat our wastewater and trade waste

Our treatment plants operate slightly differently but both produce the same high standard of clean, safe water without using any chemicals in the treatment process.

Our wastewater treatment plants clean enough water to fill about 11 Olympic sized swimming pools every day. This amount will grow as the city and population grows.

At the Chapel Street treatment plant we capture methane gas generated in the wastewater treatment process and convert it into electricity to power up to 50% of the daily energy needs of the plant.

Chapel Street methane gas conversion to power process

How do we treat your wasterwater booklet (4mb pdf)

When we clean the wastewater, unfortunately we find a lot more in it than just the three P’s (Pee, Poo and Paper (toilet). Most wastewater blockages occur when people flush things down their toilets or sinks that they shouldn’t like wet wipes, fats and cooking oils.

Follow our practical tips to stop these blockages from occurring and help protect our wastewater network and environment.

Learn more about trade waste and industrial and business requirements of disposing liquid waste

Where our treated wastewater goes

Treated wastewater from both Chapel Street and Te Maunga is discharged into the ocean via a 950m-long ocean outfall pipe. This pipe is buried below the seabed and is 600mm in diameter. It’s located offshore from Papamoa Beach and operates under strict resource consent conditions which council must adhere to.

If you are interested to learn more attend one of our site open days. Express your interest to attend a tour.

Our wastewater consents

Tauranga City Council has legal permission (via resource consent) to discharge treated wastewater into the ocean. There are special conditions to protect the environment and this activity is monitored to make sure those conditions are met.

One of those conditions is that treated wastewater must pass through wetlands at Te Maunga before being discharged via the ocean outfall pipe. This helps to absorb excess nutrients.

Other conditions we must meet include:

  • monitoring the amount, and flow rates, of the treated wastewater discharge
  • monitoring the treated wastewater quality (this includes 20 different types of tests)
  • testing the receiving ocean water at nine locations for microbiological levels
  • testing shellfish for microbiological and trace metal levels
  • undertaking a comprehensive ecological survey of marine life and sediments in the vicinity of the outfall pipe every 10 years. 

Air quality is also strictly monitored at the Chapel Street and Te Maunga wastewater treatment plants. We must:  

  • maintain an odour complaints register
  • periodically undertake odour measurements at specified locations
  • walk around both treatment plants once a month to check for any odours
  • conduct a biennial odour survey of the communities around the Chapel Street and Te Maunga treatment plants.

Wastewater Management Review Committee

Council must proactively review any technical developments or industry improvements regarding wastewater treatment and disposal. Our Wastewater Management Review Committee is responsible for this, and is made up of elected councillors (or appointed commissioners at present) plus tangata whenua representatives. Their job is to recommend future action on wastewater management in our city, and make decisions on the Environmental Mitigation and Enhancement Fund. The establishment of this fund is also part of our resource consent conditions.

Environmental Policy

Our wastewater treatment plants and laboratory staff are committed to:

  • meeting resource consent conditions and complying with legislation
  • understanding and measuring the impact our work has on the environment
  • addressing our environmental impacts and operating sustainably (including recycling)
  • using best practice techniques to prevent pollution.

We will:

  • enable staff to take ownership of environmental practices at work
  • avoid environmental incidents but be well-prepared to manage them
  • educate and inform others about environmental issues, and enlist support to improve our performance
  • set and review environmental goals and targets to monitor our progress
  • consider the environmental impact and sustainability of our work alongside our operational, financial and social goals.

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