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Evidence Presented on Air, Land and Water Plan

Auckland City and Metrowater give evidence on Auckland Regional Council's Air, Land and Water Plan

Auckland City and Metrowater gave evidence this week in support of their submissions on the Auckland Regional Council’s (ARC) proposed Air, Land and Water (ALW) Plan. Auckland City councillors Bill Christian and Bruce Hucker, Metrowater CEO Geoff Mabbett, and other expert engineers and consultants provided evidence to the hearing.

The ALW Plan will provide the statutory basis for the ARC’s management of discharges to air, land and water. Notified variations to both the Plan and the Proposed Auckland Regional Plan: Coastal, have focussed primarily on the management of stormwater and wastewater drainage infrastructure. Consequently, the Auckland City and Metrowater expert witnesses provided a range of information to the hearing about the implications of the Plan for the City’s drainage network.

“We would like to congratulate the Auckland Regional Council on the preparation and release of the proposed Air, Land and Water Plan. We appreciate the enormity of the task of preparing a comprehensive plan of this nature,” says Councillor Bill Christian, chairperson of Auckland City Council’s Works Committee.

The submissions support amendments that allow greater flexibility, as there had been concern that earlier Plan provisions could be impracticable or unaffordable to ratepayers and wastewater customers of the City, for what could amount to unquantified environmental benefit.

The investment required to meet these was potentially huge. Auckland City and Metrowater identified that more than a billion dollars would have been needed to resolve stormwater flooding, initiate more stormwater treatment procedures to remove sediment prior to discharge, and to complete combined sewer separation across the city.

Another key consideration of the submissions has been in respect to Auckland city’s complex system of drainage – with varied interaction with, and impact on, the receiving environment. There is a real need for flexibility in the regulatory approach so that solutions can be tailored to address the specific needs of the different receiving environments.

“Auckland City recognises the importance of this Plan as a leadership document. We have the opportunity now to ensure that the Plan provides the road map for achieving our collective vision for the future of the Auckland region,” says Councillor Bruce Hucker, chairperson Shareholders Representative Group Watercare.

Over the next 50 years, Auckland City is charged with the task of accommodating half of the region’s growth through the intensification of the city’s existing urban area, while at the same time protecting and enhancing its natural environment.

Metrowater, a 100 per cent owned subsidiary of Auckland City, is committed to the City’s strategic goal of a 50 per cent reduction (at 1996 levels) in wastewater pollution into the harbour by 2005. As owner of the wastewater system, and manager of the stormwater network on behalf of Council, Metrowater must balance the requirements of the shareholder, and the demands of business and residential customers with its own environmental responsibilities.

“Metrowater has a key business goal of providing outstanding asset and environmental stewardship. We are very pleased to be able to contribute to the framework that will set standards in this area for the overall benefit of the community we operate in,” says Metrowater Chief Executive Geoff Mabbett.

The ALW Plan is one of a suite of tools that recognises and provides for the growth of the wider Auckland region (incorporating as far north as Rodney and south to Papakura). It will help manage the inevitable pressure that growth will place on the natural and physical resources of the city.

Auckland City and Metrowater ALW Plan submissions are positioned to encourage an integrated approach that achieves sustainable management of natural resources in a way that balances community, social and economic needs.

“Sustainable development of the region is essential to lead economic growth – not only for the region but also for the country as a whole,” says Mr Christian.

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