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Stream pollution reports skyrocketing

31 October 2002

Reported incidents of stream and beach pollution have escalated more than 40% in the Auckland region in 2002, and the trend looks like it will continue.

From 1 January to 28 October 2002, Auckland Regional Council pollution control officers attended 1050 pollution incidents – this is up 40% on the same period last year.

“In the past two weeks alone, we have taken 115 calls which related to 61 actual pollution incidents,” said Senior Pollution Control Officer, Campbell Sturrock. “This is a record number of pollution incidents caused by human-related activities in the region.”

While the increase in reported water pollution could be due to the ARC’s Water Pollution Hotline becoming more widely known, Mr Sturrock believes that there are still many more pollution incidents not reported.

“For example, last month a dark discharge took two days to travel down Oakley Creek 10 km from Blockhouse Bay to Unitech. The pollution would have been seen by hundreds of people, yet we received only two calls. We also often find unreported stream pollution when we do pro-active site audits,” said Mr Sturrock.

“People might not know who to call, or they might think it has already been reported or just not bother – we are concerned about this and we want everyone to give the ARC’s Water Pollution Hotline a call any time a stream or beach is a funny colour, looks oily, smells funny or there are dead things.”

“If we do not know the pollution is happening we cannot respond. We need the public to help us out by being our eyes and noses,” said Mr Sturrock.

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In the last six months in urban Auckland alone, six single pollution incidents led to recorded deaths of stream fish. Streams can take years to recover from a severe pollution spill. “The ARC can minimise the damage caused by pollution if we find out about it as early as possible.”

The worst killers are highly alkaline waste-water from concreting activities and discharges of mixed fuel from service station refueling accidents. Neither should ever go down stormwater drains but need to be collected and disposed of appropriately.

Mr Sturrock says the most frequently offending industries and household activities, particularly during summer, are anything to do with construction and building maintenance – from digging earth, concrete cutting, plastering, waterblasting, to painting and carpet-cleaning activities, and the scrap metal industry with waste oil and heavy metal discharges.

Call ARC’s 24-hour Water Pollution Hotline on 377 3107 to report pollution.


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