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Network consents mean better stormwater systems

Network consents mean better stormwater systems

North Shore City Council wants to know how much residents and business people are willing to pay to ensure the city copes better during storms.

They are being asked in the council's draft 2004-2014 City Plan consultation programme whether spending on wastewater and stormwater infrastructure should continue at the current rate, or faster. In addition, council is also considering controls on urban development.

Stormwater, which is the result of rain run-off from hard surfaces such as roofs, driveways, roads and car parks, can cause flooding, erosion and pollution.

North Shore City's works and environment committee chairperson, Joel Cayford, says stormwater has received too little attention in the past.

"It's a big problem for the city now, but council can't fix it alone.''

Property owners need to do more to prevent downstream flooding themselves, he says.

"Council builds pipe systems to cope with most storms, but in really big storms rainwater will run over the ground - not under it in pipes. Private land owners need to recognise this, and new homes will need to be designed to reduce stormwater impacts."

Councillor Cayford says the more improvements that can be made to our stormwater infrastructure and management systems now, the less long-term adverse effects there will be.

"Nobody wants to have their home flooded, and everyone wants to be able to swim at our beaches and protect our streams for future generations. The longer we wait, the harder it is going to be to fix," he says.

North Shore City is required to apply to the Auckland Regional Council (ARC) for resource consents to continue to operate, maintain and upgrade city wastewater and stormwater systems, and plans to do this in August.

All wastewater (sewerage) improvements will follow the community-backed Project CARE programme, but for stormwater, the decisions made now will form the basis of the resource consent applications.

North Shore City Council plans to spend about six per cent of the total city budget - or $11 million in 2004-2005 - on the operation and maintenance of its stormwater system. In addition, $7m is planned to be spent on upgrading stormwater infrastructure.

Option one in the draft City Plan would retain that level of spending over 120 years. But while this would not result in a rates increase, neither would it halt environmental deterioration, or meet the requirements of the ARC's Air, Land and Water Plan.

If council spends $5 million a year more on stormwater improvements over 70 years - an additional 0.5 per cent rate rise per year - those requirements would more likely be met. The quality of selected streams would also improve, and flooding on properties would be reduced.

By spending $17 million a year on stormwater improvements over 35 years - a rate increase of 1.6 per cent - the quality of the environment would be greatly enhanced, but the extra capital expenditure would exceed self-imposed debt constraints.

To have a say on how much to spend and how quickly to upgrade the city's stormwater network, the people of North Shore City are encouraged to fill in the questionnaire sent with the draft City Plan, and The Kokopu Connection. The brochure specifically about wastewater and stormwater should have arrived at the same time last week.

People who have not yet received these newsletters are invited to visit the council's website www.northshorecity.govt.nz, or call Actionline on 486 8600.

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