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Comprehensive approach to Auckland’s water priority

Decision digest | Environment and Community Committee

Comprehensive approach to Auckland’s water priority for council

Bringing together all of the responsibilities of Auckland Council and the council family in delivering high quality water outcomes for Auckland Council was a priority discussion at today’s Environment and Community Committee.

Mayor Phil Goff reiterated the need to take a more comprehensive approach to improving Auckland’s water quality.

“Our vision is for a clean, green city which properly addresses the disposal of wastewater, improves the health of our streams and harbours and reduces waste streams such as plastic bags.

“While wastewater overflows into our harbours go back more than a century, the current state of Auckland’s water is no longer acceptable in 21st century Auckland.

“Upgrading and building our water infrastructure is a top priority for this council and the council group for the next decade,” says Mayor Goff.

Committee Chair Councillor Penny Hulse is leading a programme that encompasses the council group and key partners to develop a coordinated approach for water-related projects across the Auckland region.

“The current issues we face with wastewater overflows and the quality of our harbours are not new – but they are not something we should accept as status quo.

“They are also not just about infrastructure – stormwater pipes and suchlike – but about how all of our water workstreams work together in an integrated and complementary way,” says Councillor Hulse.

The strategic approach will look at drinking water, wastewater, estuarine and marine environments, stormwater, natural waterbodies and groundwater and aquifers; and the policy, infrastructure and investment, regulatory requirements, community involvement and research required to manage this.

The committee also considered items on the region’s urban ngahere (forest), Auckland’s sport sector facilities priority plan and Te Whau Pathway.

The following is a digest of decisions made. The agenda is available on Auckland Council’s website and the minutes will be added once confirmed. This meeting was also webcast on the council’s website and items are available on demand.

In recognition of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, chair Councillor Penny Hulse opened the meeting with a mihi in te reo Māori and Independent Māori Statutory Board member Glenn Wilcox spoke to the meeting exclusively in te reo Māori.

Items 1-8 were administrative items, with the exception of Public Input (Item 5). There was no local board input.

Item 5: Public Input | 5.1 Stormwater Coalition

Bronwen Turner, David Abbott and Dirk Hudig of Stormwater Coalition spoke about Auckland’s water quality and working with the council group on ways to address issues.

Councillor Hulse noted the importance of working with the Stormwater Coalition and other community groups, and the council’s willingness to do so.

Item 5: Public Input | 5.2 EPA report

Steffan Browning and Jodie Bruning spoke to the committee on their assessment of the Environmental Protection Authority report on the use of glyphosate.

The chair noted that this matter would be further discussed at the next meeting of this committee.

Item 9: Strategic approach to Auckland’s water

Auckland water programme manager Andrew Chin and technical lead Dave Allan gave a comprehensive overview on Auckland’s water issues and how a strategic and integrated approach to water will positively influence high quality water outcomes for the region.

“Auckland’s water is something every person that lives here values; it offers tangible and intangible benefits.

“In the same way our council has focussed on transport and housing, the time feels right to bring together our water story and create a new level of public awareness.

“This approach is about ensuring we’re delivering the right outcomes for Auckland’s water which, as the chair has said, is not just about our assets,” says Andrew.

Technical expert Dave Allen outlined the complex number of organisations involved and how the council can take a leadership role in bringing all groups together. He also highlighted some of the issues the council is already dealing with, including sediment, litter, stream health, faecal contamination, growth and climate change.

Councillor Hulse says the council already has a good understanding of the issues.

“We’re not starting from scratch, simply stepping up to reinforce a smarter, bolder and more integrated approach to delivering water outcomes for Aucklanders into the future,” she says.

Item 10: Progress report on the upgrade of the Safeswim programme

Since the committee agreed (in February 2017) to upgrade the council’s Safeswim programme, the project team has made significant changes to Safeswim. This includes changing its methodology from weekly sampling to water quality forecasting; a modernised website and proactive signage; and establishing partnerships with other agencies to provide integrated safe swimming advice to the public.

Safeswim will be launched in time for summer, and will bring Auckland up to international best practice on beach water quality reporting and managing health risk. It will give Aucklanders highly reliable information on the quality of water at all of our most popular beaches.

Some of the features of Safeswim include: real-time water quality advice on 69 beaches in Auckland, wave and wind conditions, tides, stinging jellyfish, and other potential water issues. It also includes safety signage at beaches, including electronic signs and other hot spots.

Item 11: Incorporating SeaChange objectives into Auckland Council group activities

The SeaChange – Tai Timu Tai Pari Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan is a non-statutory document aimed at ensuring the Hauraki Gulf is vibrant with life, its mauri strong, productive and supports healthy and prosperous communities.

The committee received an update on the integration of SeaChange objectives into the Auckland Council group work programme and approved the terms of reference and membership of the SeaChange political reference group.

Item 12: A strategic framework for Auckland’s urban ngahere (forest)

Auckland’s urban ngahere provides around 19 per cent canopy cover and is made up of trees on public and private land. The committee approved a strategic framework that focusses on, “Together, growing Auckland’s urban ngahere for a flourishing future.”

The principles of the framework highlight planting the right tree in the right place; a preference for native species and urban forest diversity; ecological corridors and urban forest on both public and private land; and life-cycle and tree protection.

Item 13: Submission to Productivity Commission’s Low Emissions Economy Issues Paper

The committee endorsed the following key themes to be included in the council’s submission to the Productivity Commission’s low emissions economy inquiry issues paper:

• Central government to provide strong leadership to support New Zealand’s transition to a low emissions future.

• New Zealand’s local government and cities are a key part of the transition to a low emissions future.

• To deliver emissions reduction and build resilience in New Zealand’s economy, we recommend an integrated approach that seeks to deliver multiple outcomes.

Item 14: Auckland Sport Sector: Facility Priorities Plan

The committee endorsed the Auckland Sport Sector: Facility Priorities Plan, prepared in collaboration by Auckland Council, Aktive and Sport NZ, to enable a coordinated, integrated and sector-based approach for future sport facility provision in Auckland.

Aktive representative David Parker said this was one of the most engaged projects in sports sector history which sees evidence-based prioritisation applied to facility provision.

Item 15: Regional Sport and Recreation Grant Programme

The 2018/2019 Regional Sport and Recreation Grants Programme was approved and will open for applications on 30 October 2017. This includes $508,000 to be allocated.

Item 16: Te Whau Pathway Scheme Assessment Report

Iris Donoghue of the Whau Coastal Walkway Environmental Trust and Derek Battersby of the Whau Local Board provided an update on the Te Whau Pathway Scheme and the committee endorsed the project’s progression to detailed design and resource consent.

Item 17 and 19: Land classification

These classification items were approved as proposed and outlined in the reports. (Item 18 was not considered at this meeting).

Item 20: Approval of the Disability and Seniors Advisory Panels’ 2017/2018 work programmes

Philip Patston, Chair of the Disability Advisory Panel, spoke to the work programme of his panel. He noted his panel’s focus on the themes of accessibility and inclusiveness, and its hopes to transition the panel from a Disability Advisory Panel to an Accessibility Advisory Panel.

In emphasising that decisions made today will affect many in the future, Mr Patston also challenged the committee to consider their needs in 30 years’ time when perhaps they might be in a wheelchair, or not be able to see or hear.

Janet Clews, Chair of the Seniors Advisory Panel, spoke to the work programme of her panel and the wide-ranging topics that are of interest to seniors. Ms Clews highlighted community interaction and strengthening social cohesion as significant focus areas.


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