Pukete Wastewater Treatment Plant

The Pukete Wastewater Treatment Plant is Hamilton's only wastewater treatment facility.

Hamilton’s treatment of wastewater is a complex process involving primary, secondary and tertiary treatment stages. The aim of these stages is to remove materials such as solids, oils, greases, bacteria, chemicals and heavy metals from wastewater. Treated wastewater (effluent) is discharged to the Waikato River. 

The end products of wastewater treatment are fully treated effluent and biosolids.


In order to ensure the plant meets the needs of the city, both now and into the future, an upgrade is required. It is envisaged that the Pukete 2 upgrade will provide for the quality, capacity and security of Hamilton’s wastewater treatment for the next 20 years. 

Our vision is to provide a world class wastewater treatment plant that meets the needs of a growing city and incorporates effective environmental sustainability and continuous improvements at the lowest whole of life cost. 

The Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade will ensure that it:

  • Complies with the resource consents conditions
  • Ensure Wastewater Treatment Plant capacity to 2028 (Average Daily Flow 54ML/D)
  • Minimises negative impacts on the local community and Tangata Whenua
  • Delivers fit for purpose wastewater treatment system with n+1 redundancy
  • Maintains public health
  • Meets Council’s energy objectives
  • Physical works are undertaken to required quality, time and budget standards

This upgrade includes: 

  • Construction of 4th Clarifier
  • Construction of 4th Bioreactor
  • Construction of 3rd Mesophilic Digester
  • Improvements to existing Clarifiers, Bioreactors and Digesters
  • Increased UV Treatment capacity
  • Increased Interstage Pump capacity
  • Provision of Inlet Flow Monitoring
  • Provision of carbon source for Bioreactors
  • Provision for Phosphorous Removal
  • Improvements to Plant Automation
  • Improvements to Return Activated Sludge System
  • Improvements to Odour and Noise control systems & practices.

Investment/time period

The entire upgrade project has a budget of $24 million, with an estimated construction period of five years. 

Wastewater Treatment Plant history

Hamilton has a history of 700-800 years of Maaori occupancy with the Waikato River providing the necessities of life. The first permanent European settlers arrived in 1864.

By 1913 the Frankton Town Board was providing a public water supply and the first of 14 community septic tanks were constructed in 1925. These tanks discharged into the Waikato River and Waitawhiriwhiri Stream and were supported by a network of pipes and pump stations.

In 1975/76 the Pukete Wastewater Treatment Plant was commissioned and the septic tanks were taken out of service. The plant consisted of a screening and primary sedimentation prior to discharge to the Waikato River.

In 2001 a substantial upgrade occurred providing secondary treatment, chlorine disinfection was replaced with UV and solid stream and centrifuge improvements were made.

Council obtained a new resource consent in 2007 to continue to discharge treated wastewater into the Waikato River. This consent included a number of stringent conditions in regards to the quality of the treated wastewater discharged which influenced the third upgrade.

A third upgrade (commonly known as Pukete II Upgrade), completed in 2014 ensures the plant has the capacity to meet the demand of today and improve compliance with resource consent conditions in relation to quality.

In 2013, Council ceased the practice of sending our biosolids to landfill. These are now transferred to a private vermicomposting[1] facility in Tokoroa where they are treated further and re-used for land remediation.

[1] Vermicomposting is the process by which our wastewater sludge is added to wood chips and through the use of worms a highly organic compost is created. This compost is then used for land rehabilitation.​

Page reviewed: 07 Jul 2021 10:31am