Archive for the 'Stormwater' Category

Auckland Stormwater and Health

August 19th, 2017

This week STEPS joined with Stop Auckland Sewage Overflows Coalition, and Manukau Harbour Restoration Society in speaking with Counicllor Penny Hulse, Chair of Environment & Community Committee, and Councillor Chris Darby, Chair of Planning Committee to  demand Auckland Council action on Auckland isthmus STORMWATER, in the Auckland Plan and the Financial 10 Year plan being prepared this year. If we miss out it will be another 1-3 decades before we have another chance!

STEPS and SASOC are delighted that Cr Hulse appeared in the media today talking about the problem and some solutions.  Coinciding with this it was announced last night that an Auckland public health study is being carried out. “The Auckland Regional Public Health Service has begun a study into why it is seeing the increase in diseases like Cryptosporidium and the potentially serious E coli (VTEC)…Medical officer of health David Sinclair said it ordinarily saw between 60 and 75 cases a week, but after a big storm that number was consistently higher than 80. The public health service would work with Auckland University, NIWA, Auckland Council and Watercare on the study.” And Local Government Minister Anne Tolley launched a ministerial review into three waters – drinking, storm and waste water. Can these really be first steps to Auckland Council and Government acknowledging we have a problem?

Our messages were:

  • Address ecological and human health risks in the “Auckland Plan refresh”, including:
    – A funding stream in the Long Term (10 Year) Plan, committed to improving stormwater
    systems (combined sewers and soakage areas) on the isthmus over no more than 20 years
    – A Chapter on Water in the Auckland Plan, showing the connectedness of people and water                                 as a strong base for action on infrastructure
  • Incorporate community input and ally with interested community groups
    now, before options are fixed in the Healthy Waters  Western Isthmus Water
    Quality Improvement Plans, to increase community support of options in the LTP process

We have been very concerned that AC Healthy Waters and Watercare appear to be working behind closed doors and producing another technical solution before the public is aware. We believe that investing even more Auckland money in extensions/ renewal of the “combined” sewage and stormwater system is taking us back to the 19th century.


  • the Unitary plan will add 2 sq kilometers of impervious surface to Meola catchment alone
  • we understand that 75% of the polluted stormwater overflows in our parks come from the ROAD system.

More housing and more motorways mean more stormwater loaded with heavy metals off cars and mixed with raw sewage… is this a recipe for “livability” and “swimmability” in 21st Century Auckland?

Waititiko Meola flows through Chamberlain Park

July 17th, 2017

Recently STEPS was approached by some people wanting to “save Chamberlain Park”, which we found means primarily they want to retain the 18 hole golf course.

New Zealand has more golf courses per capita than any other country in the world (over 400 for a population of 4 million).  The Auckland Golf Facilities Investment plan March 2016 says there are 39 golf courses in Auckland, and 85% of Auckland golf courses are 18-hole courses like Chamberlain Park. They say around 8% of people play golf, mostly older Europeans. However Chamberlain Park is one of a very few public courses with affordable fees in Auckland. Apparently about 50,000 rounds of golf are played there each year. Participation in golf is forecast to be declining rather than increasing.

Chamberlain Park is about 32 Hectares in size with an open stretch of Meola creek running through it. This is a very large green space in Albert Eden (which we understand has the least open space per capita in Auckland); in effect fewer than 50,000 people per year access this space. Albert Eden has a population of more than 95,000 people and Auckland Council tells us that 60.6% of Aucklanders engage in walking.

In 2014 the Albert Eden Local Board proposed a Chamberlain Park Redevelopment Plan (AC) which is causing controversy. The plan proposes that the golf course is reduced to 9 holes, and various other changes made to allow public access to Chamberlain Park. Proposals for change have at their heart the idea of encouraging more people to use Chamberlain Park without having to play golf. Councillor Fletcher’s view was reported in NZ Herald 2015, and subsequently the Chair of Albert Eden has published his vision for the park.  The Greater Auckland blog site has published several perspectives including this Thought piece by an Auckland commentator.  There are also many articles in mainstream media outlining opposition to the AELB proposal by groups who represent the status quo.

STEPS wants to see public walking access to Meola Creek, and ecological improvements such as streamside planting, to reduce the temperature of the water and increase the biodiversity. We also want to see restoration of some wetlands. These were drained during development of the golf course.

With 49% impervious surface, and large parts of the Meola catchment reliant on ‘soakage’ (ie no stormwater pipes), open space and especially wetlands will be essential to the Auckland Council’s plan to develop Meola catchment to 62.5% impervious (that is 27% more concrete and roof area than we currently have).  It is well known that Meola Creek has the biggest sewage/ stormwater overflows in Auckland (see pictures here).

STEPS has previously submitted to Albert Eden Local Board asking the board to value every square meter of open space under their charge.  People say “they don’t make land any more”, and we know that open space in Albert Eden is especially limited. With a view to the future (say 100 years) – we proposed they treat all open space as ‘conservation’  land, with a renewable license to sports organisations and others who should act to enhance the conservation value of the land. [By contrast we note that one of Auckland Council’s nearby tenants destroyed the remaining fragments of rock forest on their large ‘patch’ of land in the past 3-5 years.] We recommended no more reduction of open space area. This means justifying every road, every building and every hard surface we wish to put on open space, since they all add to the impervious surface and loss of ‘natural’ open space.

STEPS wants to see ecological enhancement, more wetland and more biodiversity on this open publicly owned space.  We want to see a thriving stream, and we want Aucklanders to be able to enjoy it.  This means granting public walking access – part of a ‘mountain to sea’ walkway from Owairaka Mt Albert to Te Tokoroa Meola Reef. We look forward to understanding whether this requires a 9 hole course or can be achieved with the current 18 hole course. STEPS will support creek and wetland restoration efforts.

Some ways to contribute to our local environment

July 14th, 2017

Looking for ways to help the community and the local environment?  Below are a few ideas – see also the blog giving contact numbers.

Contact STEPS to become a member, volunteer, help out with weeds, or share concerns

  • Pick up rubbish – let people know dropping rubbish is not acceptable
  • See dead or wounded animals in the park – call Auckland Council Parks
  • See an open or flowing manhole – call Auckland Council

  • Call the pollution hotline when you see a dirty stream – they may find the source of the problem
  • Call the supermarket when you see their trolleys in the creek
  • Wheel trolleys out of parks and on to the street for pickup

  • Use gobi blocks/ permeable surface in your back yard instead of concrete

a catchment with 10-20% impervious surface may receive twice the original stormwater runoff volumes during a storm;  a catchment with 35-50%  impervious area may experience a three-fold increase;        and with 75%+ impervious, an area will have a five-fold increase in stormwater

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