By Adam Ray
Dairy giant Fonterra wants to flush milk by-product straight into a river famous for its link to the Tui Brewery at Mangatainoka.
It has been arguing its case at a resource consent hearing.
It wants to discharge factory waste upstream from the brewery and its director of operations, Brent Taylor, says it won’t pollute the Mangatainoka River.
“I think [the Tui girls] have been swimming in the past and they can swim in the future,” he says.
Fonterra wants to discharge a product called condensate - water with remnants of milk resulting from the production of milk powder. .
The dairy giant has been arguing its case at a resource consent hearing.
But Ross Gilliespie, whose family has lived near the river for fifty years, says it is already polluted enough.
“Is New Zealand the new India where cows are sacred and rivers are profane?,” he asks.
Fonterra has been putting condensate into a nearby stream feeding into the river. It’s now full of algae and Mr Gilliespie says it looks like the “upchuck of a dog’s breakfast”.
Fonterra says the algae problem should be solved when it is more diluted with the main river.
“Because it’s like water, we’re looking to improve the mixing so we’re putting it into a larger body of water,” says Mr Taylor.
The Department of Conservation and Fish and Game have withdrawn their opposition after Fonterra promised to lower the discharge temperature, and put it onto paddocks instead of into the river when it's low during summer.
Fish and Game’s Phil Teal says their initial concerns have been mitigated.
“During the summer low flow months we felt the condensate was going to cause problems for the trout population,” he says.
Mr Gillespie accepts Fonterra will get approval and he is worried it will lead to the factory being expanded.
Fonterra says there are no such expansion plans but wouldn’t rule it out.
“We have no current plans but if we were to expand in the North Island, and milk production in the North Island has been stable, it’s one of our options,” says Mr Taylor
A decision on Fonterra's application could be made within three weeks.