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Waterways under pressure from pollution

Great summer, but waterways under pressure from pollution

The summer season has been a cracker so far but the hot, dry weather and people’s DIY activities are taking their toll on our urban water ways.

Greater Wellington’s pollution control team has been busy attending to a number of incidents since the summer started, including paint in storm water drains, discolouration in streams from unknown discharges, dead fish in streams and minor oil spills.

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Greater Wellington pollution control team leader Nic Conland says the high number of incidents is having a cumulative impact on the city’s waterways and coasts, putting extra stress on these environments at a time of low river flows and warm water temperatures.

“We are keen to remind people that what goes in the gutter finds its way into our rivers and eventually into the sea.”

It is illegal for anything other than rainwater to go into stormwater drains. If wastewater or liquid household wastes such as detergents, oils or paints get into the stormwater drain, they will pollute streams, aquifers or the sea. The same rule applies to tipping green waste down riverbanks.

“With cleaner water in our rivers and streams the entire food chain is healthier. People also benefit as cleaner water means better fishing, uncontaminated seafood, safer swimming and more attractive riverbanks and coastlines for water,” Mr Conland said.

How you can help:

Leave small left-overs of paint and solvents to dry rather than pouring them down the drain. Some paint retailers also accept your unused/ unwanted paint.

If you can, clean your car on the lawn - ideally without carwash solutions. Or, take it to a car wash.

Clean paint brushes in the laundry sink, or in a bucket that you tip somewhere in your garden

Take household chemicals, waste oil etc. to the specific sections at official landfills.

Fasten paint/ chemical containers to avert leaks and spills.

If there is a spill, make sure you have an absorbent rag to clean it up with. Dispose of any waste with your household rubbish. Don’t hose it away.

If possible, compost green waste at home, or take it to the region’s landfills for composting.

If you see somebody dumping waste into the storm water drain call the Greater Wellington Pollution Control Hotline, 0800 496 734. See more tips at www.bethedifference.gw.govt.nz. For more about our rivers and streams visit www.gw.govt/monitoring


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