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The project that’s got hobbits talking 

  • October 27, 2017
  • 1 min read

In a place just outside of Hobbiton, there are grassy mounds that are being used for a different purpose than to house hobbits.

The land surrounding Fonterra’s Tirau site has been shaped in a way that stormwater can now be purified running through it. 

The development of what is technically called a wetland swale is part of a major $4million upgrade of the site’s stormwater management system to meet leading industry standards.

“Some of the hobbits have actually come down to check out the swale and I must say, they seem to be pretty impressed,” said Tirau Site Manager Pele Tanuvasa.

“But in all seriousness, this is a state-of-the-art system and we’re really proud of it.”

The new facility, which is more robust and was designed specifically for the site, was officially opened this month during a ceremony involving South Waikato Mayor Jenny Shattock, local iwi Ngāti Rukawa and other stakeholders.

Fonterra's Tirau site

“It was fantastic to have representatives from the local community along to not only help us celebrate the opening but also provide blessing over this stormwater system,” said Tanuvasa.

During the ceremony, Mayor Jenny Shattock said Fonterra’s ongoing commitment to Tirau and the surrounding community is making a positive difference.

“I want to acknowledge Fonterra for their foresight in recognising that the South Waikato continues to be the right place and the right location to invest in,” she said.

“Fonterra does have a strong commitment to this district. It helps spark other industries to follow suit and to look to the South Waikato for growth and for new development.”

The improved stormwater system will see the first 10mm of a rainfall event captured in a first flush tank while the remainder of the water will be purified in the swale, which is a biological and natural way to treat stormwater.

The site is also now better prepared for any adverse events. For instance, in the rare case of a spill on site, there is capacity to store more than one million litres in the stormwater system if needed.

The importance of stormwater management for industrial sites and urban dwellings is recognised worldwide, particularly given that soluble and insoluble material such as dirt and dust can accumulate on surfaces after a period of dry weather.

Finding solutions like the stormwater upgrade at Tirau helps ensure our operations have good environmental outcomes.

We have a programme of investment aimed at seeing Fonterra lead global industry water standards by 2026.

As part of this programme, and in our efforts to invest in resource-efficient manufacturing plants, a number of manufacturing sites are undertaking improvement work.

Our goal is the efficient use of water in everything we do. New Zealand’s natural resources are fundamental to the high-quality milk our farmers produce, and together we’re committed to caring for them for future generations.