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600% increase in water pollution incidents

Concrete activities blamed for 600% increase in water pollution incidents

The Auckland Regional Council is cracking down on concrete contractors to prevent water pollution and protect native fish from ‘death by concrete.’

Over the last four years there has been a 600 per cent increase in water pollution incidents caused by concrete activities such as laying concrete, washing cement from exposed aggregate driveways, cutting concrete and washing concrete equipment and tools.

This week the ARC Pollution Response Team sent information to over 1000 businesses and individuals who work with concrete, as part of an education project aimed at increasing awareness of the environmental effects of concrete, and what can be done to prevent it.

Concrete and cement products contain burnt lime, which dissolves in water and produces a strong alkaline solution that kills fish and insects through chemical burns. The Pollution Response Team has found that 30 per cent of all fish kills are due to concrete wastewater.

Chair of Environment Management Committee, Dianne Glenn, says greater care needs to be taken when dealing with concrete products.

“Auckland is experiencing a building boom which places more pressure on the environment. The ARC provides educational material and practical solutions to concrete contractors so that they may avoid discharges. If you are hiring a concrete contractor ask to see their environmental policy and tell them you will not tolerate any discharges to the environment,” said Cr Glenn.

Pollution Response Team Leader Rowan Carter, says the contractors can avoid fines of up to $1000 or prosecution by adopting the cost effective alternatives the ARC has developed in partnership with the concrete industry. “Whatever goes down a stormwater drain flows untreated into urban streams and our harbours. Stormwater drains are found outside on driveways, in roads, yards and carparks. The only thing that should go down a stormwater drain is rainwater,” said Mr Carter.

Auckland has approximately 1,300 urban streams which are home to a variety of aquatic life, such as the native trout kokopu and inanga, and their young known as whitebait.

The public can report any instances of concrete washing or any other discharges of pollution to stormwater drains and waterways by calling the ARC 24 hour Water Pollution Hotline on 09 377 3107. If you require a concrete information sheet, please contact Pollution Response Team Leader, Rowan Carter.

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