Knowledge base

NZ Municipal Wastewater Monitoring Guidelines

Discharges from wastewater treatment plants have a significant impact on the environment. Effective monitoring is vital to ensure that discharges from wastewater treatment plants are not resulting in adverse environmental or health effects.

Designing wastewater monitoring programmes can be complex. Wastewater treatment plants discharge into a range of receiving environments, including into rivers, estuaries, streams, lakes, and on to land. And the discharges vary in nature depending on the level of industrial input and the type of treatment process.

The purpose of the Ministry for the Environment’s Sustainable Management Fund is to support the community, industry, iwi, and local government in a wide range of practical environmental management initiatives. I am pleased that the fund has been able to support the development of these guidelines to assist in the development of monitoring programmes for municipal wastewater discharges.

The core principle of these guidelines is that the higher the potential risks of the discharge to the receiving environment, the greater the level of monitoring that will be required. This approach works best if the experience of the treatment plant operator, regulator and local knowledge and values are incorporated into the design of the monitoring programme.

These guidelines provide a framework for councils and their communities to work collectively through a risk-based process, prior to a resource consent renewal or review, to develop an appropriate environmental monitoring programme.