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Foreword and Acknowledgements

The New Zealand Waste Strategy, launched jointly with Local Government New Zealand last year, identified the need to complete and publish a Sewage Treatment Handbook for small communities.

Coastal settlements, small towns, and low-density rural settlements will all face wastewater management decisions at some time. The issues are complex and challenging, and finding solutions will involve thinking about how big the community will grow, what kind of community it will be, how clean the local stream or estuary will be, even the layout and form of the settlement.

Sustainable Wastewater Management: A handbook for smaller communities, provides a framework to assist small communities identify and evaluate alternatives for improving sewage treatment and disposal. The aim of the handbook is to help communities understand and navigate the issues, plans, legislation, and technical advice provided by consultants.

The government's Sanitary Works Subsidy Scheme will assist small communities to upgrade substandard wastewater treatment facilities and provide a healthier environment. This handbook has been designed to help everyone get involved in the process.

Hon Marian L Hobbs
Minister for the Environment

The Ministry for the Environment would like to express its gratitude to the authors and members of the Steering Group, to URS Limited (Project Facilitator) and to those who took part in the peer review process.


Principal author with responsibility for Parts 1 and 2 – Dr Gael Ferguson; co-authors of Part 3 – Andrew Dakers and Ian Gunn. Part 4 was written jointly by all three authors.

Steering group

The Steering Group was responsible for the tenor, framework and scope of the Handbook, and also contributed content. Members came from a wide range of backgrounds, including local councillors, the farming community, Greenpeace, an engineering consultancy, local government officers, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry for the Environment. Members were not expected to act as representatives of organisations with which they were associated, but were asked to draw on their own personal views and experience. The group consisted of April Bennett, Jim Bradley, Dr Joel Cayford, Andrew Dakers, Dr Gael Fergusson, Ian Gunn, Dr Gordon Hodson, Penny Hulse, Gordon Jackman, Dr Peter Maddison, Liz Mellish, Paul Prendergast, Tim Rochford, Trish Taylor, and Charles Willmot.

Peer reviewers

There was an extensive peer review process and the following individuals provided substantial input: Odile Balas, Ian Couling, Keith Davis, Blair Dickie, Stephen Karaitiana, Dr Margaret Leonard, Dave Miller, Jim Pringle, Mike Safey, Paul Sampson on behalf of Ingenium, Roger Seyb, Brian Sharplin, Paul Utting, Jim Wareing, Peter Winefield.