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John Fitzmaurice

John Fitzmaurice

John Fitzmaurice has the right credentials to tell the story of Auckland’s Wastewater and the Mangere Wastewater Treatment Plant as his first job as a young engineer was with the Auckland Metropolitan Drainage Board at the time of the Browns Island controversy.

The hiatus in implementing the Mangere scheme enabled him to apply for and win a Fulbright Travel Grant and obtain a Masters degree in Sanitary Engineering from Harvard University in Massachusetts. On return he spent twelve years with the Board, rising to the position of Design Engineer (Special Works), responsible for administering all contracts for the Mangere Wastewater Treatment Plant and all pumping stations in Stage 1 of the Manukau Scheme.

Subsequently, practising as Steven Fitzmaurice & Partners, John designed or supervised a number of municipal sewerage schemes throughout New Zealand. John became an Executive Director of Beca Engineering when the practice merged in 1989.

On retirement John served as a Deputy Commissioner of the Environment Court for six years. He is currently a member of the Audit Group for Project Manukau, responsible for overseeing compliance with the resource consents for the recent Mangere Treatment Plant upgrade. He is a member of the Auckland Engineering Heritage Chapter Committee.

Paper: History of Auckland Wastewater Treatment Plant

Abstract: Paper outlines the early unsanitary conditions in Auckland town in the 1850s to 1870s and describes the various proposals to alleviate the problems. Depression delayed improvement and not until 1908 was the Orakei Scheme embarked upon. Discharge was to the Waitemata Harbour at Okahu Bay. The scheme was commissioned in 1914. With increasing city expansion, the waters around the Orakei outfall became polluted and were considered a menace to public health. In 1929 the Auckland and Suburban Drainage Board’s newly appointed Chief Engineer, H.H. Watkins, recommended abandoning the Orakei outfall and replacing it with treatment works on Browns Island, some 2.5km offshore. The works would be connected to the reticulation system by a submarine sewer. Controversy raged for several years and politics took over, the Browns Island Scheme eventually being overturned, even though construction had commenced. An overseas panel of experts appointed by the Board recommended the Manukau Scheme with treatment in large oxidation ponds and discharge to the Manukau Harbour in Mangere. This was adopted and commissioned in 1960. The paper describes the odour and midge difficulties which soon arose. The plant has had two major upgrades since then, fixed growth reactors replacing trickling filters in 1981, and removal of the oxidation ponds and replacement of the FGR’s with activated sludge reactors as part of the 2003 Project Manukau.

Sir Neil Cossons
Paul Davies
David Dolan
Wayne Johnson
Euan McQueen
Robert McWilliam
Duncan Waterson
David Beauchamp
Trevor Butler
Matthew Churchward
Andrew Cleland
Rachael Egerton
John Fitzmaurice
Don Fraser
John Gibson
Owen Graham
David Hamilton
Bill Harvey
Peter Holmes
Kevin Jones
Paul Mahoney
Tom Williamson
Peter Lowe
Peter Marquis-Kyle
Gavin McLean
Rob Merrifield
Owen Peake
Miles Pierce
John Porter
Nigel Ridgway
Tony Silke
Jim Staton
Richard Venus
Ian Walsh
Daniel Woo
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