We use large amounts of water in our homes, workplaces and buildings. Some of it soaks into the ground, but much of it eventually ends up in a wastewater system, ranging from small on-site treatment systems (such as septic tanks and soil soakage fields), to very large sewerage systems and wastewater treatment plants.
Wastewater that contains human waste is known as sewage. The pipes that carry wastewater are known as ‘sewerage’ pipes or sewers. Local authorities are responsible for managing regional sewerage systems. They are also responsible for the re-entry of treated waste or waste by-products into the environment. A badly-maintained sewerage system could result in overflows and expose the community to disease-causing pathogens (bugs) and in disaster situations, such as floods, the risk of water-borne diseases travelling through a community can increase.
A wastewater overflow occurs when wastewater (sewage) spills out from gully traps, manholes, engineered overflow points or pump stations and flows into public or private property, waterways and the sea. Overflows usually occur because of blockages in the pipes (from tree roots, debris such as wet wipes and disposable items, and cooking-fats and oils that solidify in the pipes) or overload during heavy rain.
The Health Protection Team works to administer the sanitary requirements under the Health Act 1956. We do this by:
- working with the local authorities in our region on planning and resource consent processes, surveillance, information gathering, responding to incidents and complaints and reducing the number of overflows happening in our region
- providing public health advice to the local authorities
- strongly supporting the ‘Swim Thru Summer’ programme which gives advice to the public about beaches to avoid that day. Click here for more information on swimming in Hawke’s Bay.