Cambridge wastewater treatment plant
A growing population, plus new environmental standards and other legal requirements mean a new wastewater treatment plant is needed for Cambridge. The new plant will also service Hautapu and Karāpiro Domain.
The new plant will meet very high environment standards, will take up less room on the site and will do everything possible to meet higher community aspirations for the health of the Waikato River.
In September 2023, Waikato Regional Council formally granted a 35-year consent for the new plant, following a five-year planning process.
Updated: 27 September 2023
- 35-year consent for new Cambridge wastewater plant, 28 September 2023
- Council awards largest contract package, ever, 29 March 2023
What does the existing Cambridge wastewater treatment plant do?
The existing plant has been operating since then 1970’s. It receives, treats and discharges wastewater from Cambridge and surrounding areas. This is critical to maintaining public health and minimising contamination of land and waterways.
The Cambridge plant is located Matos Segedin Drive to the west of Cambridge township, surrounded by the Waikato River to the north and farmland and industrial sites along other boundaries.
How does the existing plant operate?
The existing plant receives wastewater, treats it and then discharges it to land before the water travels to the Waikato River as groundwater. While this form of treatment has been acceptable in the past, environmental standards are now higher. We also have higher aspirations, and legal obligations to, the health of the Waikato River. So plans are now well in train to build a brand new plant.
Is the current plant still operating safely?
Yes, absolutely. The Cambridge wastewater treatment plan has been operating under several resource consents, first granted in 1997. Over the past four years, we’ve been upgrading the plant to comply with changing operating conditions.
In December 2020, Council was granted a short-term resource consent to allow the plant to continue operating and discharging wastewater. A condition of the approval was that a resource consent for a new plant was lodged and that the new plant be operational by 1 Dec 2026.
How will the new plant compare to the existing one?
We’re committed to meeting the highest possible standards when it comes to wastewater treatment. The proposed new Cambridge plant will treat wastewater to a standard that is comparable to the best treatment plants in New Zealand. This will be done utilising Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) technology.
The new plant will also align with Te Ture Whaimana o te Awa o Waikato, the Vision and Strategy for the Waikato River and with Tai Tumu Tai Pari Tai Ao, the Waikato-Tainui Environmental Plan. These are both legal requirements.
It will comply fully with Waikato Regional Plans and any conditions laid down by the Waikato Regional Council while also taking into account matters of importance to tāngata whenua.
Will the new plant look different?
Yes! The new plant will look very different to the one that exists now in Matos Segedin Drive.
The existing Cambridge wastewater treatment facility is largely a pond system (including wetland ponds), requiring a very large area for it to operate.
The new plant will consist of buildings, tanks, and large concrete structures instead of the current pond-based system. It will occupy a smaller footprint – around one-third of the size of the existing plant. That means unused land on the site which is not required for the new plant can, in the future, be remediated and put to better use.
The new plant will also include its own on-site solar farm, generating enough energy to power the plant during the day. It will also take into account visual impact, noise and odour management plus meet the highest quality effluent standards. Biosolids produced by the plant will be taken off site for re-use as compost via a third-party.
How will water be discharged from the new plant?
Council undertook a very thorough assessment to determine the best location and method of discharging highly treated wastewater from the new Cambridge plant.
Investigations identified that discharging via the current Rapid Infiltration Beds was not possible, because of geotechnical and construction risks presented by the site.
Alongside the Kaitiaki Group advising this project, our preferred discharge option is a gabion wall/rip rap (rock) structure on the bank of the Waikato River. Highly treated wastewater (treated to a level cleaner than the river itself) will flow down the structure before reaching the Waikato River. The discharge structure will be located within the site itself.
In September 2023, Waikato Regional Council granted a 35-year resource consent, meaning the new plant is now officially all go.
In anticipation of the resource consent being granted, Waipā District Council has already let three contracts, including to Spartan Construction, which will build the plant.
Construction will begin in late 2023 with a new outfall discharge being constructed in early 2024.
The new plant will be up and running by 2026.
For more information on this project please contact us at 0800 WAIPĀ DC (0800 924 723) or email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject: Cambridge Waste Water Treatment Plant.