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Council agrees on remediation plan for Lowes Pit

Lowes Pit

Most of Lowes Pit will be filled in and about a quarter of the area converted into a wetland as part of a multi-barrier treatment process to minimise the potential risk of contaminated stormwater entering the water body.

Situated in the Ōmahu industrial zone, the site is a legacy from the 1940s when it was a pit used to store shingle for road building.

Over time it filled up with water and is an area that stormwater discharges into from the surrounding industrial area.

In an effort to ensure any potential contaminants are prevented from entering or removed from stormwater discharge, independent assessments were undertaken to determine the risks and offer solutions.

These investigations found there was no evidence of human waste in samples taken, E-coli bacteria (predominantly from sheep and cows) was found at levels consistent with other urban stormwater systems, and there were some elevated zinc levels associated with roofing materials and brake pads.

Today, councillors were presented with two options for remediation – one suggesting that a quarter of the pit area be converted into a wetland as part of the treatment process, and the remainder filled in for an estimated cost of $3.1m.

The other option was to introduce control measures at the source of stormwater discharges, as well as end-of-pipe treatments as a further last-stage barrier to any contaminants, at an approximate cost of $1.5m.

In this year’s draft annual plan funding allowance was made for $2m towards whatever solution was decided upon.

In deciding to opt for the wetland, councillors noted the extra advantages the actual stormwater treatment provided as well as the opportunity to enhance the area.

Hastings mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said work had been ongoing on for several years to determine the risks surrounding the stormwater, and that the status quo was not an option.

“Significant changes to government legislation are coming that mean such upgrades will be necessary and by doing this work we can sort this out and future-proof this stormwater system.

“This kind of issue is something that is going to be part of our long term plans of the future – it’s not just Lowes Pit, it’s other areas that will have to be included in future budgets.

“We are taking the opportunity now to protect this area environmentally and enhance it for the community.”

The council also committed to investigating external funding sources to help pay for the remediation, and to investigate a range of options for the future use of the site as part of the upcoming detailed design.

9 June 2020

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