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Council flushes out views on water management

28 April 2005

Council flushes out views on water management

The Wellington City Council wants to keep improving the quality of Wellington’s coastal, harbour and stream waters by tightening control on what goes into them.

To help do that, the Council wants to minimise the pollution of the stormwater system by sewage overflows, runoff from roads, silt and litter.

But the Council needs to hear what people consider is “good” water quality and how much they are prepared to pay for it. Two new reports, released for public discussion, outline how the Council proposes to meet future demands for water, stormwater, waste water and solid waste systems, cemetery services, and public toilets.

The draft plans, the Assessment of Water and Sanitary Services and the Liquid Waste Management Plan, put the focus on protecting Wellington’s water by using the resource efficiently – the waste-not, want-not approach – and maintaining water quality.

The Council has sent out summaries of the two plans to 58 interest groups and 45 residents’ groups. These groups have been invited to attend a public meeting on 5 May to discuss the proposals.

The two reports have also been sent to neighbouring councils, the Greater Wellington Regional Council, Ministry of Health, and Ministry for the Environment and distributed to local community boards. The Council will be consulting with iwi in the coming weeks on both documents.

Pollution in stormwater causes environmental damage. This pollution comes from sewage entering the stormwater system in wet weather; heavy metals and hydrocarbons mainly associated with car use; nutrients, sediment and silt from erosion and building developments; and litter – everything from dog faeces to cigarette butts. At present stormwater is not treated in any way. Continuing flood protection work is also part of the water management strategy.
“Domestic ‘waste’ water is a resource waiting to be used,” says Council Planning and Assets Manager Maria Archer. “The Council wants to canvas public opinion on collecting rainwater and ‘greywater’ to use to water gardens and flush toilets. Greywater – dish, shower, sink, and laundry water – comprises 50-80 percent of residential waste water.”

On the issue of public health, the Council may consider introducing a code of practice for private rainwater collection systems and the management of septic tanks. It plans to collect more information about areas of Wellington not connected to water, waste water and stormwater systems. As a starting point, the Council has sent questionnaires to residents living in non-reticulated areas: Makara, Makara Beach, Horokiwi, Ohariu and south Karori. The 70 households that have so far replied to the questionnaire received a summary of the Assessment and an invitation to the public meeting. Concerning waste disposal, the Council wants to introduce a “polluter-pays” system for trade waste from industry, businesses and public institutions, which makes up 10-12 per cent of the total flow at the Moa Point Treatment Plant. The sometimes toxic and corrosive materials contained in this waste can present health risks for sewage workers, damage the pipe network and create potential problems with sludge disposal.

The public consultation process for the two draft plans runs concurrently with the 2005/06 Annual Plan submission period. Until 20 May, the Council will accept written submissions on both plans. It will also hear oral submissions. Any recommended changes will be considered by the Strategy and Policy committee. The public meeting is at 6pm on 5 May in Committee Room 2, Wellington City Council offices, 101 Wakefield Street.

Copies of the two draft plans are available for inspection at the Wellington City Council offices, Wellington Public Libraries and on the Council website www.wellington.govt.nz They can be also be obtained by calling Wellington City Council 499 4444. Submissions close 5pm Friday 20 May 2005.

ENDS


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