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How many Deaths Does it take? Oxidation, Effluent and Water Storage Ponds


9 Dec 2020

How many Deaths Does it take? Oxidation, Effluent and Water Storage Ponds

Graeme Wells, Associate Environmental Engineer,
Beca Ltd, Christchurch

Presented at IPWEA Conference, Dunedin, New Zealand – June 2020

Fourteen people have drowned in effluent and oxidation ponds in the last decade alone. The inadequacy of fencing and egress provisions were noted in coronial reports in all cases. As professionals involved in designing, detailing, reviewing, and operating ponds of all types, we have a duty to learn from these unfortunate past events so risks of further fatalities are reduced.

There are standards for swimming pools, but not ponds.

What about the other ponds we have created; open-excavation borrow pits, stormwater detention basins and wetlands to name some? If it is man-made, under Health and Safety legislation, the defined Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU), has a responsibility to protect against any consequential health or safety risks. This duty applies to both current operational ponds and new ponds being contemplated.

This paper will look at what can be learnt from past fatalities, what guidance exists and what design and operational improvements we can make.

View IPWEA Conference Speaker Graeme Wells PowerPoint & Paper