On-site Domestic Wastewater Design Manual TP58 and the Auckland Unitary Plan

The Auckland Unitary Plan was released for public comment on 30 September 2013 with submissions to close on 28 February 2014. The section on on-site domestic wastewater systems is set out in Part 3, Chapter H, Section 4.15.

Essentially Section 4.15 incorporates much of the Chapter 5.5 provisions of the 2004 PARP-ALWP (Proposed Auckland Regional Plan – Air Land and Water Plan) which was subject to appeal to the Environment Court in 2005. A key issue of that appeal was that TP58, the Auckland Regional Council Technical Publication No. 58 “On-site Wastewater Systems: Design and Management Manual”, 3rd Edition, August 2004, was specified as the reference document for which all systems within the Council on-site wastewater rules must adhere. The substance of the appeal was that TP58 was flawed, and that subsequent updated versions would not be able to be used unless a Plan Change was promulgated.

Negotiations with the new Auckland Council during 2011/2012 resulted in agreement between appellants and Council as to insertion of appropriate wording into the Chapter 5.5 provisions which referred to the 2004 version of TP58 “or any replacement design manual”. This agreement was incorporated into a consent order dated 19 June 2012 which was discussed in the On-Site NewZ Blog posting of 25 June 2012 and associated Pages link to the text of the Consent Order.

What is notable from the Unitary Plan on-site wastewater provisions in section 4.15 is that the changes set out in the 2012 Consent Order which make TP58 or its replacement a “living document” are omitted, and the controls (rules) governing on-site wastewater implementation remain locked into the 2004 version of TP58. On-Site NewZ will be looking into this anomaly and making submissions on the Unitary Plan accordingly.

However, of particular note is the fact that having again locked in TP58 2004 to the new plan, the Council has published TP58 2004 “on-line” together with the series of Fact Sheets the ARC (Auckland Regional Council) prepared from 2005. The full set of documentation is 356 pages (334 TP58 and 22 pages of Fact Sheets) and can be accessed from the Pages sidebar of this Blog at “Auckland Council On-site Wastewater Design Manual TP58, 2004”.

Readers should note, however, that On-Site NewZ made submissions to the ARC in December 2004 and January 2005 on what it considered to be significant technical and editing issues with TP58. On-Site NewZ argued that TP58 2004 was a “flawed document” and should be used with considerable caution. That opinion still stands.  The December 2004 critique of TP58 Chapters and the January 2005 critique of TP58 Appendices are available alongside the TP58 text in the same Pages sidebar item above. It should be born in mind that quite a few of the suggested changes and edits of 2004/2005 are now out of date.

Auckland Council is currently reviewing the 2004 version of TP58 with a view to updating or replacing it. However, it may be some time before an amended version is available. On-Site NewZ will keep readers posted as to progress with such an update or replacement.