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Damaged stream gets second chance

Damaged stream gets second chance

1 March 2004

A happy ending to a backyard horror story, where a local section owner decided to keep and restore his backyard stream and repair the damage that contractors made while clearing the site in January.

The ARC’s Pollution Control Team was called to Beachhaven after distressed residents Rodney and Roberta Stewart phoned North Shore City Council to report their treasured backyard stream had silted up, the water had turned black and native fish had died.

The small stream on their property was directly affected by contractors clearing vegetation from a small two-house section just upstream.

Two contractors had stripped the site almost bare, churning up the vegetation and leaving vegetation to rot in the small stream. Removing the vegetation caused the stream to heat up with the sun and decomposing vegetation turned the water black and anaerobic, which leaves fish no oxygen to breathe.

Due to having no sediment controls on the site, a lot of mud and the anaerobic water was flushed downstream during the heavy rains in late January, shifting the damage to the Stewarts’ section of the stream.

“We asked the contractors to do some work immediately to improve the site and they did that,” said pollution control officer Angela Mayson. “Also the contracting companies involved have invited us to give a talk to staff on how to look after the environment when clearing sites.”

The owner was planning to pipe the stream, which he is allowed to do. After talking through various options with the ARC, instead he has decided to revegetate the stream with native plants and put a small bridge across it for his driveway, recognising the benefits to both the environment and his property of a well-cared for natural stream.

“The incident highlights just how much damage can be caused by a house site if it is not cleared properly and doesn’t have sediment controls in place,” said Ms Mayson. “The ARC can advise builders and contractors of ways of ensuring that they are causing minimal damage. Phone 366 2000 for help.”

As both the owner and contractors were quick to fix the damage and learn from the incident, the ARC has decided not to proceed with enforcement actions.


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