Water, wastewater and environmental issues in New Zealand

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Where’s the RMA going? Any plan beyond warm fuzzy words?

Where’s the RMA going? Any plan beyond warm fuzzy words?

The RMA [New Zealand’s Resource Management Act 1991] has been part of our legislative framework for over 20 years. When the RMA was first passed into law, I can remember the discussions about how it was going to take 10 to 15 years for the RMA to be fully effective, as it was going to take this long to develop all the control instruments of the Act.

These control instruments were the various National and Regional Policy Statements and standards that were supposed to be put in place to provide direction.

Instead, almost 24 years on, we have a situation were the National Standards are only just starting to be developed now and regional authorities are more interested in building velodromes than they are in doing anything real for environmental management. Lip service is often paid to regulatory requirements under the Act, consultation programmes are undertaken, but the end result is a glossy document that cost tens of thousands but says and achieves nothing. The bureaucrats can however tick the box and say they have completed their statutory obligation.

It was my belief back in 1991 that the RMA was going to take some time to bed down but once everybody understood how it worked and national and regional government embraced the new tools, that we would then have a plan of where we were going and what we needed to achieve.

Sadly, this is not the case.  Resource users are no wiser now as to what the plan is than they were in 1991 and the national and regional toolboxes lay empty and unused.

The only industry that has a plan is the much maligned dairy industry with its Clean Streams Accord. The argument as to the adequacy of this plan is debate for another day but why is it that this is the only part of the community that has any form of plan beyond warm fuzzy words?

One of the objectives of the New Zealand Trade and Industrial Waste Forum is to start the conversation between the industries, the regulatory authorities and the utility operators.  Perhaps as an organisation, we should take the initiative and start developing the plan for trade and industrial waste. So where do you want things to be in the 2, 5 and 10 year brackets?


Written by Geoff Young, this blog was posted on the New Zealand Trade and Industrial Waste Forum 1 December 2014.  Opinions expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the position of BPO Ltd.

Geoff Young is the Director of BPO Ltd and the Chairman of the New Zealand Trade and Industrial Waste Forum

New Zealand Trade and Industrial Waste Forum is a Group on LinkedIn



In times past, you could read a few journals, go to a couple of conferences and be pretty confident that you were on top of things. At least in the scientific community. And if you published in the right peer-reviewed journals, or delivered a couple of conference papers, you were certain to be cited, and you kept your credibility as a player.

But the world has changed: It’s no longer enough to be seen at Conference (in whatever field, though I’m thinking about the Water NZ Conference in New Zealand) and even to sponsor a tote-bag or award. Now you have to have a presence in cyberspace. You need to be seen/heard over the clamour of hundreds of other voices, some more controversial and therefore more shareable and more likely to Go Viral.

How do you stay on top?

1) Accept that it costs money and time.  The thing is to discipline yourself to limiting the amount of time you spend trolling online and getting the best bang for your buck. You don’t have to go to every conference and you don’t have to read every post or tweet any more than you have to read every email. There are ways to maximise the cost/benefit.

2)  Conferences are expensive, whether you are putting up a stand in the expo hall, delivering a paper, chairing a session, or attending as a delegate.  The most valuable time for gathering new ideas and keeping your own profile visible, is by networking with the movers and shakers during tea breaks, or around the stands.  So you should choose the conference you’re going to invest time and money in, by who is going to be there – not by the interesting titles on the programme.  That generally means the big industry conference, not the scientific and specialty conferences.  In our subject field this means the Water NZ annual conference and the Trade & Industrial Waste Forum conference.

3) Participate in online forums.  Here’s a NZ example, the New Zealand Trade and Industrial Waste Forum:   You have to be a member to post on most of these forums, but you can usually see the threads beforehand so you can decide whether it’s worth investing your time in.  Check when the last post was: if it’s more than a couple of weeks ago, it might not be active enough. Once you have decided on this, you really do need to contribute or it all falls over, and the forum can’t keep going. There are some more Water forums here

4) Facebook, Twitter and other Social media can be a great time waster, but they are also the place to keep yourself in the loop.  How can you reduce the time wasted and maximise the networking?  Accept that there will be a lot of stuff coming through your “feed” that you won’t spend time reading – just scan and pick out the worthwhile posts from their headings (a reminder that if you are posting, use good  titles and/or first few words).  It is better to have to scan through some dross and be sure you’re not missing the pearls,  than to cull too severely the Pages or Tweeters you follow.  But be disciplined about limiting the time, and do it in your natural downtime, not your premium concentration work time.  For me the time just after lunch, when my concentration is at its lowest, is the time to clear email and scan the Facebook page’s News feed.

5) Use Current Awareness tools.  If you belong to an organisation that still has the luxury of a library, with real librarians, get them to do an online search of the relevant databases in your field.  Give them heaps of keywords at the beginning, and give them lots of feedback about the results, and you won’t get a whole lot of irrelevant stuff, but you won’t miss the pearls either.  The librarian may even get excited about your pet subject and keep a look out in all kinds of media.

If you don’t have this luxury, you can do a periodic search yourself through your own public library databases, or at least through Google Scholar *(Ask me how if you don’t know).  This means you don’t have to scan huge numbers of journals but you can keep up with developments in your field.  The peer review process doesn’t guarantee either the accuracy or the relevancy of the articles themselves, but they are more likely to be scientifically rigorous than what you might read in a trade journal.  And you can just search for what a particular person or company is putting out in both patents and papers.

The main thing is not to get overwhelmed by the flood of stuff: ride it like a surfer, and keep on top.

BPO Ltd library Silverdale Road, Hamilton

A business library will usually have books, research reports, journals, standards, and in-house publications. This is in BPO Ltd’s library.

This posting is by Kate Young, BPO Ltd.  The opinions expressed are personal and not necessarily the position of BPO Ltd.

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San Diego Advances Plan To Recycle Wastewater Into Drinking Water During California Drought

CBS Sacramento

SAN DIEGO (AP) – The San Diego City Council has unanimously agreed to advance a $2.5-billion plan to recycle wastewater for drinking.

The 9-0 vote on Tuesday is the latest example of how California cities are taking a closer look at recycled water amid the severe drought.

The plan calls for initial production of 15 million gallons a day by 2023 and 83 million gallons a day by 2035, or about one-third of the city’s water supply.

California second-largest city would join Southern California’s Orange County Water District as one of the nation’s largest producers of recycled water for drinking.

Orange County plans to increase production to 100 million gallons a day next year – from the current 70 million gallons a day.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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VancouverSun: Sechelt, BC aims to scrub pharmaceuticals from its wastewater

Water in the Works

Via: VancouverSun, November 13, 2014

The District of Sechelt, B.C. is pursuing a unique pilot project that will use recovered sewage solids to remove traces of pharmaceutical drugs, recreational drugs and hormones from post-treatment wastewater.

Such a system could be used to treat the province’s wastewater before it is discharged into surface water systems used for drinking water by downstream communities. Many municipalities outside the Lower Mainland discharge treated wastewater into rivers and a handful — such as Vernon and Oliver — already use it for irrigation on golf courses and hay fields.

The U.S. Geological Survey recently reported that pharmaceuticals persist for several months in irrigated soils, which Sechelt Mayor John Henderson fears could hinder consumer acceptance of foods grown with reclaimed water. Plus, trace chemicals from treated municipal wastewater are known to disrupt the reproductive systems of fish.

Sechelt is hoping to divert its wastewater for use in agriculture…

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Water reuse: “It’s not a question of ‘Can we do it?’ We can do it” — John Rehring #COWaterPlan

Coyote Gulch

Reverse Osmosis Water Plant Reverse Osmosis Water Plant
FromThe Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Colorado water providers facing a shortfall…are turning to a long-ignored resource: wastewater.

They’re calculating that, if even the worst sewage could be cleaned to the point it is safe to drink — filtered through super-fine membranes or constructed wetlands, treated with chemicals, zapped with ultraviolet rays — then the state’s dwindling aquifers and rivers could be saved.

Colorado officials at work on the first statewide water plan to sustain population and industrial growth recognize reuse as an option.

“We need to go as far and as fast as we can on water-reuse projects,” Colorado Water Conservation Board director James Eklund said.

But there’s no statewide strategy to do this.

Other drought-prone states, led by Texas, are moving ahead on wastewater conversion to augment drinking-water supplies.

Several obstacles remain: huge costs of cleaning, legal obligations in Colorado to deliver water downstream…

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