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Community environmental organisations support plans

Community environmental organisations support plans to improve Auckland’s water quality

A collective of Auckland environmental organisations has warmly welcomed Mayor Phil Goff’s commitment to clean up our urban streams, harbours and beaches. They say Auckland has waited for 50 years for such significant action on reducing millions of cubic meters of combined sewage and stormwater overflowing into central Auckland’s parks, streams and harbours (and in many cases private properties) every time Auckland gets significant rain. Meola Creek catchment, for example, has over 100 overflows a year of sewage and stormwater containing biological, chemical and heavy metal contaminants. This load of pollutants reduces biodiversity significantly, particularly in the stream’s upper reaches and is dangerous for people and pets.

Spokespersons for the organisations, Elizabeth Walker (St Lukes Environmental Protection Society), Bronwen Turner (Manukau Harbour Restoration Society) and Wendy John (Friends of Oakley Creek Te Auaunga) call on residents across Auckland to back the plan, saying it is a bold vision for a cleaner, safer future for all Aucklanders. Because the pollution from overflows moves quickly around the Waitemata and Manukau harbours and remains in the harbours for extended periods, the ability for Aucklanders to safely enjoy the harbours and streams has been highly compromised for decades. For example, the new Judges Bay beach development makes it a lovely inner city place for families to swim and enjoy over summer, but like Pt Chevalier, Onehunga Lagoon and St Heliers Bay beaches, it is unsafe for swimming on far too many occasions.

The organisations have outlined goals and steps for stream and harbour cleanup such as separating stormwater and sewage, treating stormwater before it reaches harbours and recharging aquifers.

Separating stormwater and sewage reduces peak loads currently causing treatment bypasses at the Mangere Treatment Plant. Improved treatment of stormwater is particularly important as a base for Auckland’s response to expanding development and future climate change impacts.

Ms Turner said “there will be some who oppose such expenditure, but these voices cannot be allowed to drown out those who have worked for many years for cleaner fresh water streams and harbours. The proposed improvements will significantly enhance Auckland’s living quality for everyone and we encourage Aucklanders to support them.” The organisations welcome others wishing to join them to work in support of these improvements.

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