ORC monitoring Queenstown's whiffy poo ponds

by Kim Bowden - Dec 07, 2023

A fault at the Queenstown wastewater treatment plant is causing a stink that threatens to breach consent conditions.

There are rules imposed on the Queenstown Lakes District Council regarding how much "air discharge" is acceptable from its Shotover poo ponds, and this week the facility may be breaking them.

Otago Regional Council compliance manager Tami Sargeant says members of her team have been onsite to conduct an odour survey after being notified of complaints about the smell on Tuesday.

It is the regional council's job to police compliance with consent conditions relating to odour.

For now, Ms Sargeant will not comment on the outcome of that odour survey or whether the QLDC is set to face any regulatory repercussions for the fault. 

Technicalities aside, any local will tell you the smell is strong - and gross.

"Omg the stench is vile. You can smell it all the way through Dalefield," one online commentator says.

"Welcome to Queenstown where...the air stinks of poo," another says.

The wastewater treatment facility is located close to the Shotover River and can be seen from the Shotover Bridge on State Highway Six leading into Queenstown.

Ms Sargeant says the regional council has been working with the QLDC and contractors at the plant as they seek to resolve the issue, likely related to a "sludge processing and dewatering system".

She was told yesterday contractors reckon they will have a fix within seven days.

"ORC will monitor the site to ensure issues are appropriately rectified."

Meanwhile QLDC infrastructure boss Tony Avery yesterday apologised for the odour, saying "urgent repairs" are underway.

This week's identified problem at the plant is unrelated to ongoing upgrade work at the facility that has caused some nearby workers and residents to complain about a bad smell in recent months.

Main image: A pond at the Shotover Wastewater Treatment Plant, Wednesday, December 6, 2023.

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