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MfE Hippo-crapsy at Auckland Zoo

MfE Hippo-crapsy at Auckland Zoo

Green Media Release 5th June 2008

An Environment Ministry “Green Ribbon Award” announced today for Auckland Zoo is a bit of a joke considering the zoo’s bad record for its hippos polluting a local stream, says Greens Co-Leader Russel Norman.

“Ministry officials must have had their eyes closed and nostrils pegged when they checked out the zoo’s effluent disposal into waterways,” Dr Norman said today.

One of 27 nominations in this category in a year when nominations were "exceptionally high", the zoo's second placing recognised “its outstanding efforts to address environmental issues across the board”, according to a press release from the zoo.

“I agree Auckland Zoo does some great work in promoting and protecting endangered species and in recycling waste, but it has a sad record when it comes to the aptly-named Motions Creek,” Dr Norman says. “It isn’t the only polluter – the creek suffers from human sewage too - but surely that’s no basis for a ‘Green Ribbon Award’.”

According to information the Green Party has obtained from the Auckland Regional Council, the main discharge from the zoo is from the “Hippo River”, with effluent containing nutrients, suspended solids and bacteria, principally from hippopotamuses.

An Environmental Management Plan (EMP) due December 2007 to address this has been delayed until September 30, 2008.

Motions Creek empties into Waitemata Harbour near Cox’s Bay which is used regularly by boaties such as the Hawkes Sea Scouts who have their boatshed base there.

“The Environment Ministry is supposed to be working on the Government’s long-promised Sustainable Water Programme of Action,” Dr Norman says. “It’s also tasked with improving “the quality and efficient use of fresh water by building and enhancing partnerships with local government, industry, Māori, science agencies and providers and rural and urban communities”.

“In this context giving a Green Ribbon Award to a stream polluter is a farce. We need some movement on cleaning up Motions Creek.”


Q&As about zoo pollution between Green Party and ARC below

Recent questions from the Green Party about zoo effluent into Motions Creek and answers from the Auckland Regional Council:

---What sorts of contaminants are discharged into Motions Creek?

The main discharge from the Zoo is from the ‘Hippo River’. This water flows into the new Hippo enclosure (2 animals) and then drains to the old Hippo pond (Snorkel’s enclosure) and spills into Motions Creek. The water contains nutrients, suspended solids and bacteria, principally from the activities of the Hippo’s. Most of the suspended solids entrained in the flow are sourced from the Hippo wallow in the new Hippo enclosure.

---Are there any treatment processes in place for the discharges of Auckland Zoological Park?

Suspended solids are addressed by a filter which removes hay and coarse solids from the hippo river flow. The final enclosure before the creek (Snorkel’s pond) has no treatment, but is now envisaged as temporary due to the Snorkel’s considerable age. Under normal conditions the Hippo River flows through Snorkel’s pond and overtops into Motions Creek. However, at regular intervals Snorkel’s pond is emptied directly into Motions creek and residual sediment / straw removed.

---What is the current state of Motions Creek?

Motions Creek is subject to considerable contamination from network discharges including an area of combined sewerage, urban runoff, Zoo discharges and drainage from the north-western motorway. The quality of water leaving the Western Springs is generally considered poor. This is thought to be jointly due to avian faecal inputs from the abundant birdlife in the Western Springs Park, and the flow regime within the pond system.

---Have there been consent breaches in regards to Auckland Zoological Park?

The ARC has not yet received information required under the consent, specifically an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) due December 2007. Discussions with Zoo staff during a recent compliance visit have resulted in a revised timeline for provision of the EMP (now due 30 September 2008). Funding for capital works required by the consent has now been confirmed and works are due to be completed August 2008. This delay is considered a breach of consent conditions, but the officers involved consider the delays are being resolved in a timely fashion by the Zoo management team.


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